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Nintendo 64 ■ PlayStation ■ PC CD-ROM ■ Sega Saturn ■ Arcade ■ Online 




...for I have 
murdered harlots, 
possessed rats, 
and arrived 

two years before 
the chosen time” 


Driven by a stunning new 3D engine 


and a disturbingly dark plot. Shiny's 


volume three | 


Messiah is like nothing else before it 


Messiah s plot, which lets gamers try their hand at playing the savior, 
might spark outrage among some (the Christian Right, for instance). 
But the game's engine, which works with models made up of over 
500,000 polygons, tesselated in real time, is beyond reproach 


$5.99 U.S. $6.99 CAN 


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finished? 


John Romero thinks so. Ion Storm’s Daikatana (page 82) will use 
the Quake engine. Why? Because Romero (and he’s not alone), 
feels that technology has reached the point of irrelevance, that 
games are reaching the point movies were after color and sound 
were introduced. Tech is the past, and design — and design alone 
— is the future. Quake is a great engine, so why waste months of 
development time (that could better be spent on game design) 
doing something that will be only marginally better than the easily 
licensed engine from Id? 

Shiny’s Dave Perry couldn’t disagree more. Without the complete 
control over every pixel on the screen that comes from creating 
your own engine, he says, you cannot truly make the game you 
want. That’s why he’s discarded the MDK engine, and is spending 
millions of dollars and thousand of person hours creating a new 
engine for Messiah (page 56). 

Who’s right? There is merit to both arguments, and while no trend 
has been more disappointing in the past 18 months than the 
substitution of technology for real advances in gameplay (a charge 
which Quake may certainly be guilty of, especially in one-player 
mode), suggesting that we are nearing the end of the road for 
game technology sounds to us a bit like the patent official in the 
late 1800’s who threw up his hands and declared that everything 
that could be invented, had been invented. 

Either way, whether a game is based on a radical new engine, or a 
refinement of an old one, it can’t get past the idea stage — or get 
pitched to a potential publisher — without a design document. In 
an exclusive special report starting on page 40, we present all the 
information budding game designers need to make — and sell — a 
game idea, whether they plan use an off the shelf engine or create 
their own. 



Arl=i:i=l 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 











REAL 




Your ship has crash landed on an unknown planet. 

Look around. Crystal clear water shimmers. Shadows shift. Alien architecture 
fades into the horizon. Darkness falls. Walkways glow. Godless temples beckon. 
You are afraid. You are in the real world...but it is like no world you have 
ever known. You are an uninvited guest in the fastest, sleekest, 
most beautiful 3D world ever created. Live it. Breathe it. Survive it. 

Unreal. Alter your reality...forever. 



LOOK FOR THE NOVEL FROM POCKET BOOKS 

Unreal™ ©1997 Epic Megagames. Inc. All Rights Reserved. Created by Epic Megagames. Inc. in collaboration with Digital Extremes. Published and distributed by GT Interactive Software Corp. Microsoft® and Windows® are registered 
trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. MMX™ and the MMX Logo™ are trademarks of Intel Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. 








NEXT 

GEItfEfMTfOltf 


September 1997 

Contact 

Next Generation 

imagine Publishing, Inc. 

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Entire contents copyright 1997, imagine Publishing, me. 
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part 
without permission is prohibited, imagine Publishing. Inc. 
also publishes Ultra Game Players. Boot. PC Gamer. 
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are tradenames or trademarks of their respective 
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Printed in the united States of America. 


manuscripts cannot be returned or acknowledged.Oh. and by the 


re sik and bred ol them snooty language 


Bulk Rate 
U.S. Postage Paid 
South Florida Facility 
Permit No. 161 


sunny lace and durty (okes. I 


Cathy, or whatever yor real 
name may be, if you think 
yor going to come In here 
next month waving yor fancy 



Cover Story: Shiny's Messiah 

An in depth look at one of the most revolutionary PC games revealed this year, we talk to the developers about the amazing new 3D 
technology employed in the game and with Dave Perry about what the game should mean to the industry. 



Our Man in Washington 

Next Generation speaks to Doug Lowenstein, current 
president of the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) 
about his work in our nation's capital on behalf of the nation's 
computer and videogame industry (and gameplayers) 


From Concept to Game Plan 

Got a game idea that just has to get made? it needs a design 
document. Next Generation shows you how to create effective 
documentation for your idea, and perhaps more importantly, we 
tell you what to do with it once you've got it 





















introducing 



News 

The M2 is declared dead • New game technology revealed at E3 • 3Dfx comes to the Macintosh 
• Plus online gaming takes another big step forward with new sites and software 



Alphas: More than 15 games previewed 

Games for PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and PC previewed. Plus profiles of classic Australian 
developers, Melbourne House, and a look at Mak/Zombie's first foray into military sims 


talking 


IDS A President Speaks 

Doug Lowenstein speaks out on behalf of the 
game industry in our nation's capital. Find out 
what Senator Lieberman is really like 


breaking 


News 

Gaming news from around the world, including: 
20 M2 is dead (special) 

28 Movers 'n' Shakers (business news) 

30 Joyriding (online gaming news) 

32 Arcadia (coin-op news and updates) 


40 


ng special 


From Concept To Game Plan 

Most of us know what a film screenplay looks like, 
but what about a game design? This month Next 
Generation reveals what it takes to put together a 
professional design document and a few other 
things you'll need to know if you're serious about 
getting your game made. 


53 


ng software 


Alphas 

Previewed this month: Messiah (PC CD-ROM), 
Daikatana (PC CD-ROM), Psybadek (PlayStation), 
Monster Rancher (PlayStation), Prey (PC CD- 
ROM), Earthworm Jim 3D (N64) 


www.next-generation.com 


Next Generation Online 

The most respected videogame website in the 
world. News updated daily 


127 


ng special 


The way games ought to be 

Exploring the cutting edge with Neil West: what 
force feedback could mean for gaming 


130 


rating 



Finals: 23 new games reviewed 

Every month, NG reviews each and every major new game release, so that you know 
which ones to buy immediately, rent first or avoid altogether. 


Finals 

We separate the winners from the losers. 
Reviewed this month: Multi Racing Championship, 
Poy Poy, Shining The Holy Ark, Blood, 
Carmaggedon, Dungeon Keeper, Sega Super GT, 
Comanche 3, WipeOut XL, and more 


148 


now hiring 


How do you make your regular friends jealous? 
Get a job in the gaming industry 


153 


corresponding 


Letters 

Got something to say? Send us e-mail for our 
letters section. We're listening 


155 


ending 


Next month... 

Want to know all about the best graphics 
around? NG #34 hits newsstands on Sept. 23 


07 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 

































































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1 Must start li 


A man of pwd rliaracf 
can dig and fill 


PlayStation 




























NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


Select gameplay movies, exclusive live interviews, and the best playable demos. Next Generation Disc 
users experience the highest-quality interactive editorial — direct from every source available 


10 


ng disc contents 




The Next Generation Disc brings industry leaders to life — monthly 


ng special 

special is dedicated to highlighting 
anticipated game titles 


ng previews 

previews is where you can view 
up-and-coming game titles 


ng demos 

demos lets you play the latest and 
greatest interactive demos 


ng finals 

finals is a searchable database that 
contains every NG final review 


ng internet 

ng internet provides you with the latest 
internet connectivity software 


See the Next Generation Disc when you 
read an article with this symbol on it 


J n extension of Next Generation’s 

comprehensive games coverage, the 
Next Generation Disc brings over 50 
QuickTime movies of game footage to your 
personal computer. This month we highlight 
the best E3 had to offer, including live 
interviews with Nintendo’s Howard Lincoln, 
Shiny’s David Perry and more. 

Beyond our extensive game footage, the 
Disc also delivers the latest playable demos 
and direct Internet connectivity. 

We have been following the 
development of Nuclear Strike closely. Now, 
we are pleased to invite you to an online 
roundtable with the Nuclear Strike team. 
Join us Thursday, August 21 from 5 p.m. - 7 
p.m. on The Palace chat. (Members of the 
Strike team are on discs accompanying 
issues 31 and 33.) For more information, 
go to: www.next-generation.com/cdrom. 


talking 


talking is where you'll see and hear the 
people making news in the industry 


talking 

Nuclear 
Strike with 
John Manley 
& Michael 
Becker 


finals 


A searchable 
database of 
more than 
1200 Next 
Generation 
reviews 


Howard Lincoln 
Messiah, 
Psybadek, 
David Perry, 
Prey, IDSA 
Pres. Douglas 
Lowenstein, 
KillWheel 


Constructor, DogDay, 
Wipeout XL (2097), 
NG Screensaver 


America Online, 
Heat, The Palace, 
Tic-Tac-Chat 


previews 

Banjo Kazooie, 

Sonic R, Crash 
Bandicoot 2, 
GoldenEye 007, 

Last Bronx, X-Fire, 
Mission: Impossible, 
Panzer Dragoon Saga 


internet 


mac 


Speed Demon 1.2, BOMBER III, 
Imperialism, NG Screensaver 

































^1 


Choose your favorite form of world domination. Coming this fall 


www.microsoft.com/games/empires 


;s is a trademark of Microsoft C 


>rved. Microsoft 




"Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians, 
declared Charles de Gaulle. And you know what? 

Next Generation agrees with him — especially when 
the fate of the videogame industry is in their hands. 

So let's hear three cheers for the IDSA 

as Next Generation visits.. 



talking 



NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


talking 


O he IDSA (interactive Digital Software Association) 
is the videogame industry's major trade 
organization, and Doug Lowenstein is its 
president. Based in Washington DC, the IDSA handles 
pretty much all of the game industry's dealings with angry 
politicians, organizes and runs E3 (the Electronic 
Entertainment Exposition), fights software piracy, supports 
political campaigns that help videogaming, and opposes 
those that don't. It's Doug who takes Senator Lieberman's 
calls to the games industry, and Doug who works behind 
the scenes to make sure that the game industry is well 
represented in our nation's capital. It's a dirty job, but 
someone's got to do it... 

One big happy family 

NG: What exactly is the IDSA? 

Doug: The Interactive Digital Software Association was 
created in April of 1994 as a trade association to 
represent the business and public policy interests of the 
interactive entertainment software industry of the united 
States. 

NG: So you're the videogame software industry's 
representative in Washington. Just to be clear, what do 



you mean by "public policy interests"? 

Doug: The issues that tend to be in the legislative area, 
both at the state and federal government level, pertaining 
to the entertainment software business. These issues can 
concern content regulation, ratings, copyright, 
international trade, software taxation, and a variety of 
other issues in which the government is involved. 

NG: But you're not the only trade body for the games 
industry, there's also the Software Publishers Association 
(SPA), how do you differ from them? 

Doug: Our focus is strictly representing companies in the 
business of publishing entertainment software. And in this 


way, we're much more focused on one particular niche of 
the market. The SPA has a broader view and represents a 
wider range of software companies, including business 
software developers and publishers. 

NG: So are all the main videogame software publishers 
members of the IDSA? 

Doug: Yes, we have 41 members today. Each member 
has equal footing, but some of the biggest, most high- 
profile companies include Electronic Arts, GT Interactive, 
interplay, LucasArts, Midway, Microsoft, Spectrum 
Holobyte, Virgin, and Broderbund. Remember, this is a 
software publishers organization, not a hardware 
producers organization, so Sega, Sony, and Nintendo are 
also members, but only as software companies. 

NG: So supposing senator Lieberman had gotten excited 
about, say, the damage to children's eyesight that Virtual 
Boy might have caused, instead of violent content, would 
this have been an issue that the IDSA would have been 
involved with? 

Doug: Probably not, because it probably wouldn't have 
been an event that would have caused software 
companies to come together and recognize the need to 
work together. 

NG: But videogame companies are constantly bickering 
with each other. And as a body made up of all these 
independent companies that are locked in life-or-death 
competition with each other, don't you find yourself 
constantly tugged in different directions by companies 
with self-serving agendas? 

Doug: Certainly one of my great concerns when l took 
this job was the intensely competitive nature of the 
companies in this business and their lack of history of 
working together in a form of this sort. 

It is quite common for many industries that are far 
more mature than ours to have trade associations in 
which competitors identify common concerns and work 
through the association to advance them. But I was very 
concerned, given the intense competitiveness of our 
business, that it might not work with the videogame 
companies. But l am pleased to say that it has been one 
of the great rewards and surprises of being involved in 
the IDSA to see how companies have managed to set 
aside their specific corporate interests and 
competitiveness and look at issues from the standpoint 
of, "What is important for the overall industry?" Relatively 
little time has been spent trying to referee divergent 
points of view on our agenda. 

The story so far... 

NG: So why was the IDSA created in the first place? 

Doug: it was formed because of two converging factors. 
First, there was a growing recognition in late 1993 that the 
games industry had really reached a point in its size and 
impact in the U.S. that it needed a voice of its own. 
Second, and at the same time that this realization was 
developing, the U.S. Congress determined that videogame 
and computer game violence was the latest and direst 
threat to the health and welfare of western civilization. 
This threat really helped crystallize the thinking on the 
part of a lot of the game industry's executives that the 
time was right for a common voice for the industry. 

NG: You're talking about Senator Lieberman and his 
campaign against videogame violence. So the IDSA was 
created, partly, to deal with this issue? 

Doug: Right. What we faced was an effort by Congress to 
regulate the content of our industry through a federally 
mandated ratings system. Basically, we were given a 
period of time to come up with our own system of rating 
game content — or they would do it for us. So we spent a 


14 










considerable amount of time working with Dr. Arthur 
Pober to create the Entertainment Software Ratings Board 
[ESRB] which has now been firmly established as the 
entertainment software rating system in the United 
States. The ESRB has rated over 3,000 products since 
September of 1994 and is used by virtually every leading 
entertainment software publisher in America. 

So that was our initial undertaking, and it was quite a 
monumental one in terms of what we were trying to 
achieve. It also occupied a good deal of time in the early 
formative months of the association. 

NG: And after Senator Lieberman was calmed down, 
what did the IDSA tackle next? 

Doug: Following right on the heels of the ratings issue 
was the need to create a dedicated trade event that was 
owned by and operated for the entertainment software 
publishing community, and of course E3 became that 
event. The IDSA owns and operates E3 and it is, obviously, 
an ongoing project that consumes a significant proportion 
of our time here. It is also quite profitable and is the 
primary source of income for the association. 

NG: So what other threats to or projects for the 
videogame industry is the IDSA involved with? 

Doug: well, after the whole ratings issue and E3, a third 
area of tremendous importance and significant 
investment is our anti-piracy program. The packaged- 
goods piracy problem in the U.S. isn't terribly serious, but 
around the world we as an industry face an estimated $3 
billion per year in lost revenue due to piracy. We're talking 
about millions and millions of counterfeit and pirated 
games being sold each year around the world. This cuts 
money from R&D budgets, and affects the price of games 
in the U.S. 

So we as an association are putting in place a multi¬ 
faceted program to protect the intellectual property rights 
of our members. This program includes public policy 
advocacy here in the U.S. with the U.S. government, active 
investigation and enforcement efforts in specific countries 
where we have identified particularly acute problems for 
our business, training and education of U.S. customs 
officials and law enforcement officials, working with 
foreign governments directly and with third parties to 
include adoption of effective intellectual property 
regimes, and it includes an online enforcement initiative 
to try and make some headway in the growing problem 
of internet piracy. 

NG: You say that piracy isn't so much a problem in the 
U.S., so where is it a problem? 

Doug: China is top of the list, both as having a large 
pirated market internally, but also as the world's largest 
manufacturer of pirated product for export around the 
rest of the world. Other problem countries would be Hong 
Kong, Taiwan, Paraguay, Bulgaria, Argentina, and Mexico. 
Russia is becoming a serious problem, while other 
Eastern European countries are becoming more of a 
threat as their economies continue to emerge. 

NG: So what other day-to-day issues does the IDSA have 
to deal with? 

Doug: The whole area of public policy advocacy is an 
ongoing thing. We are very active at the federal and state 
level seeking legislation that will help our industry and its 
growth, as well as opposing legislation that would stifle 
our industry's growth. This could mean opposing efforts 
to regulate internet content, promoting the adoption of a 
new international intellectual property rights treaty, or 
even working to ensure the fair treatment of software 
exports. On the state level we periodically face significant 
attacks by legislators attempting to regulate our industry, 
specifically in the area of content. Next Generation 


talking 


actually wrote about one such effort in Arizona (NG 29) 
earlier this year. 

We are also involved with research. We believe that 
we develop some of the most unique research available 
to companies in the entertainment software industry. We 
conduct annual consumer research — the deepest 
research that anyone does in this industry — on 
consumer buying habits in the area of entertainment 
software. And we also develop research on the economic 
impact of our industry on the U.S. economy and this is a 
tremendously valuable tool for educating policy makers 
and the media on just how important this business is in 
the U.S. today. 

Videogames in Washington 

NG: What do most politicians in Washington think of 
videogames? is the industry viewed as a healthy, 
profitable business which generates millions of dollars of 
revenue? Or are most politicians suspicious of 
videogames because of the violent content debate? 
Doug: it depends on who you talk to. in a number of 
sectors over the last few years we have made 
tremendous progress in educating policy makers on the 



importance of the videogame industry. For example, the 
United States Trade Representatives office has recently 
been very helpful in international negotiations in seeking 
to protect our industry because, in large part, they have a 
much better idea than they did before about how 
economically important the videogame industry is. For 
example, the U.S. recently negotiated the information 
Technology Agreement, and in its earliest drafts 
entertainment software was not included. But as a result 
of our efforts and working with the Clinton administration, 
they became very strong advocates of a comprehensive 
treaty that included entertainment software — because 


15 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 











NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


talking 



they completely understood how important this industry 
has become in the U.S. and global economy. The 
videogame industry is a strong exporter, and so from a 
balance of trade standpoint videogames are very 
important to U.S. policy makers. 

NG: So part of the IDSA's job is to educate politicians 
about the good that videogames do? 

Doug: Absolutely. In Congress, we have made it a priority 
over the last 12 months to aggressively educate 
legislators on the industry, in February we held 
"Entertainment Software Day," which was one of the most 
important events that has ever been held in Washington 
for our industry, and around 20IDSA member companies 
came to Washington and demonstrated and displayed 
products to members of Congress, the administration, 
and Congressional staff. 

There really is no substitute, when you talk about the 
game industry, for two members of Congress sitting down 
at a computer terminal — and this actually happened — 
and playing a game of NCAA Basketball representing their 
respective state schools They engaged with our product 
in a way that they never had before, and we're going to 
continue these kind of efforts. 

NG: And in this kind of way you're getting the message 
through? 

Doug: Gradually there is a growing recognition that 
entertainment software is part of the mainstream 
entertainment force in this country and one worthy of 
protection and consideration. 

Now, having said that, l don't want to overstate the 
facts. There are certainly politicians in Congress who don't 
fully understand the industry and tend to have a less than 
positive view of its products because they associate it 
with violent content. So one of the things that we are out 
there constantly trying to do is make two critical points 
One, that our industry appeals to a very broad 
demographic and that we don't make homogenized 


products because we don't have a homogenized market 

— like any other entertainment industry we have an 
obligation to serve a market that ranges from kids to 
senior citizens. Two, the vast majority of product is rated 
by the ESRB as acceptable to people over six years old, so 
while there is a perception in some quarters that games 
are violent, the facts are otherwise. And we try to drive 
that point home as forcibly as we can on the Hill. 

NG: So the tide is turning, and more and more politicians 
are seeing the good in videogames? 

Doug: Oh yes, we have people in Congress now who are 
actively interested in our industry and are supportive of 
our industry, generally speaking. And that was simply not 
the case a few years ago. I even believe that our friends 
Senator Lieberman and Senator Kohl have both 
moderated their views on this industry based on a 
growing understanding of the quality of the product and 
the nature of the product that is out there. That's not to 
say that everyone's "got religion," because they haven't 

— yet. But we're still working on complete conversions! 

Senator Lieberman 

NG: So are you are the first person Senator Lieberman 
calls whenever he feels he has something to say to the 
game industry? 

Doug: Yes, that's fair to say. 

NG: Obviously, Senator Lieberman has been the most 
high-profile politician in the whole violent content/ratings 
debate. But is he really the main focus and lightning rod 
for the whole debate? Or are there other politicians 
equally as involved but in more behind-the-scenes roles? 
Doug: No, l would say that in the U.S. government, 

Senate, and Congress, Lieberman is certainly the lightning 
rod for the whole debate. And I will say this too, if we are 
going to have a lightning rod, l would rather have Senator 
Lieberman as our antagonist, a man who I believe is a 
thoughtful and open-minded individual, than many others 
who l believe would be far more demagogic in their 
approach to this issue than Senator Lieberman is 
NG: it sounds like you like him. So what’s the real scoop 
with the guy? 

Doug: Meaning why is he doing this? I believe that on a 
personal level Senator Lieberman was genuinely 
concerned with some of the videogames that he saw and 
that as a legislator he had a platform from which he could 
have some impact. 

We certainly disagree, for the most part, with how he 
has approached this issue and I think there is a very very 
thin line between advocacy [merely arguing a point of 
view] and having a chilling affect on the content 
community [actually coercing designers to censor their 
own products]. But in fairness to Senator Lieberman l 
think he is respectful of the First Amendment and l think 
he is sensitive to these kinds of issues We may have 
some differences with him as to where this line needs to 
be drawn, but I think he genuinely believes that our 
industry ought to be free to publish what it wishes and I 
don't think he would support — indeed, he has not 
supported efforts — to interfere with that right. 

NG: But no one's reported seeing him playing Mortal 
Kombat just yet? 

Doug: No, I don't think that Senator Lieberman is secretly 
a closet gamer... 

The politics of ratings 

NG: The result of Senator Lieberman's initial campaign 
was the establishment of the industry's own content 
ratings system. How real — at the time, or since — was 
the threat of an enforced federal system of ratings? 


16 













Doug: l think you can find an answer to that question by 
looking at what happened to the television industry this 
past year. The TV industry faced a demand in the 
Congress to adopt a ratings system and the TV industry 
capitulated. This came a little over two years after the 
game industry faced the same threat, and ironically, by 
the way, the legislation that was introduced to mandate a 
TV ratings system was the identical legislation introduced 
to mandate a videogame and computer game rating 
system. So the fact of the matter is that l have absolutely 
no doubt that had our industry not moved to self¬ 
regulation, the U.S. Congress would have passed and the 
President would have signed legislation setting up a 
commission to set up a federal ratings system for ua 
NG: And this would be a worse situation than the self- 
governing system than we have now instead? 

Doug: I don't think that there is any question that we 
would be in a worse situation. The notion of any federal 
role in regulating content is terrifying. 

NG: Was there ever any real threat of Congress banning 
violent game content altogether? 

Doug: No, even at the height of the Congressional 
controversy, at no point was Senator Lieberman 
advocating legislation that would have barred the 
publishing of particular types of game. The pressure was 
to create a ratings system, but there was never really a 
threat to ban these games altogether. 

NG: So there's no real danger of politicians dictating to 
game companies about what sort of games they can and 
can't make? 

Doug: Not as such, no. But the problem in any 
democracy when the central government begins to 
meddle in the creative process is that it can have subtle 
and sometimes fairly overt effects on business and 
creative decisions. And these pressures have the practical 
impact of amounting to de facto regulation of content. 
This was the threat that we faced at the time, and to 
some lesser degree that threat is always present. 

We have in this country a continued movement by 
various factions in our political culture that would impose 
a moral value system on many other people. And I think 
it's always a concern of ours that these forces — forces 
that don't take a great deal to stir up — may emerge as 
advocates for some form of regulation that could be very 
damaging to those involved in the creative process. 

NG: If any Next Generation readers want to add their 
voice to the violent content debate, what is the best thing 
they can do? 

Doug: I would say there are a couple of things. First, find 
out who your local Congressman and Senator are and 
write them a letter that doesn't attack the member for 
trying to regulate our industry but instead talks about how 
you play the product, what type of enjoyment and value 
you get from it, and indicates your view that the 
Congressman or Senator ought to be taking all actions 
necessary to protect and advance the business interests 
of this industry that is providing consumer products to 
you, the game player, and contributing to the economy. 

Also, it would be worth mentioning in such a letter 
the impact of videogames on popular culture at large. A 
recent story in BusinessWeek talked about how 
videogames are actually an asset to those who use them, 
increasingly people are realizing that playing videogames 
are helping people prepare for the workplaces of 
tomorrow. They can prepare people to work with 3D 
environments, they promote comfort with computer 
technology, and some evidence is developing that 
computers and videogames can be used as learning 
tools. Also, the way some of our products have become 


talking 


part of popular culture — such as Sonic and Mario — is 
something that gameplayers should be proud of. And 
communicating this message to decision makers would 
be a good thing. 

NG: So you don't advise ranting at them? 

Doug: I don't think that, at this point in time, it would be 
helpful or desirable to write letters blasting Congress or 
Senator Lieberman for what has happened so far. There is 
nothing content-related pending in Congress to be 
concerned about — so we don't want to be rattling the 
cages, instead we should be communicating the message 
that there is a community — or a constituency — of 
players out there who do, or will, vote. 


Atlanta, permanent home for E3? 



NG: how do you respond to criticisms that although this 
year's E3 was excellent, Atlanta's world Congress Center 
was a terrible venue and everyone would have been even 
happier if the show been held elsewhere, closer to the 
epicenter of the industry, like L.A. or Las Vegas? 

Doug: First and foremost you have to ask exhibitors, "Did 
the show deliver what you expected and needed?" and 
that's a high quality audience, high level press, and 
positive visibility for the industry — and in all those 
regards the show was an unqualified success in Atlanta. 

I heard this same message from companies with 
headquarters in LA, from 
companies with headquarters in 
New York, and from companies 
with headquarters all places in 
between. That said, it is certainly 
true that for many west coast 
companies it would still be 
preferable to have the show on 
the west coast. But any 
suggestion that Atlanta as a venue 
and a facility didn't serve this 
industry well in 1997,1 think would 
be an inaccurate conclusion, and 
not a conclusion that would be 
shared by the majority of 
exhibitors. Let me add that the 
show moved to Atlanta only 
because we ran out of space 
in LA and would not have been 
able to accommodate several 
dozen exhibitors. We felt is was 
important for the show to be open 
to as many companies as possible 
seeking to establish a presence in 
this industry. 

NG: So is E3 in Atlanta for good? 

Doug: Not necessarily. We'll be in 
Atlanta for 1998, but after that 
nothing is fixed. We'll be hearing 
presentations from venues — 
including Los Angeles — who 
want us to locate E3 there in 1999 
and beyond, and our board of 
directors will make that 
decision in early August. uL£j 


17 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 












You’ve been 


' nt ° h °odTn^ a _ rst o 















[Takejt outside. Because this battle is too big for some skinny 


ASS ARENA. 4 KILLER 
MOVES, and vicious 3D i 


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com 


ighting 























NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


Matsushita: M2, so close and yet so far • Authoring Systems: Game development tools for non-programmers 
come of age • Macintosh: Latest releases reveal a still-viable platform • Nintendo: Back in arcades, thanks to Seta's 
new N64-based board • PlayStation: Analog pad's bad vibrations • Sega: New Model 3 games revealed 



Essential analysis of today's most crucial gaming news 


Matsushita: 

Finally pulling the plug 

After years of delays and hype, Matsushita calls it a day for M2 


20 




he fate of Matsushita's 
blighted M2 technology has 
finally been sealed. Next 
Generation has discovered that the 
sole licensee of the technology has 


Many suspected things were 
not going according to plan 


has been little noise made by the 
consumer electronics giant and many 
industry pundits have suspected that 
things were not going according to 
plan. Prospective M2 developer Rob 
Povey at Boss Game Studios echoed 
this viewpoint: "It doesn't surprise me 
a great deal but I have to say I'm a 
little disappointed. Matsushita would 
hardly have been in a strong software 
position if they had released — even 
if the first round of games had been 
excellent, where were the second 
and third round games coming from? 
Their reluctance to talk to and 
reassure third party developers on 
their plans for the platform (outside of 
Warp, Capcom and Konami, it is 
assumed) would have left them with 
a lack of software after their initial 


The 3D0 Company, developers of the IMSA Racing M2 game, seemed unaware of the format's cancellation 
when contacted by Next Generation, was their recent demo to build hype for a possible PC port in 1998? 


cancelled the entire consumer game 
console project in a move that could 
cost the Japanese giant hundreds of 
millions of dollars. 

Leaks reached NG at the end of 
May that 3DO's ill-fated 64-bit 
technology would not ever make it 
into the homes of Japanese or 
Western gameplayers in the form that 
was intended. Finally, Matsushita 
Industrial president, Yoichi Morishita, 
announced in late July that the 
technology would be used in a set¬ 
top multi-faceted unit similar to the 
plan for the ill-fated Pippen. The 


reasons cited 
for the decision 
include the 

irrepressible strength of 
Sony in the videogame 
market, and a hardware 
specification that would 
have had difficulty 
competing with forthcoming 
consoles from rival companies. 

This news should come as little 
surprise to those who have closely 
monitored the development of the 
format. For more than a year there 






















July ’94 NG editors uncover the world's first details on 
Bulldog, M 2 ’s original development codename 

Sept ’94 3DO confirms existence of Bulldog and 
announces moniker ‘Mark 2 accelerator’ and the use of 
a PowerPC CPU 

Nov ’94 3DO boss Trip suggests M2’s performance is 
substantially more than 1 million polygons/sec 

Mar '95 NG obtains updated specs. Matsushita is 
declared the first M2 hardware licensee 

Apr ’95 Rumors abound about the involvement of 
Philips and Japanese heavyweights Konami and 
Capcom with M2 

May ’95 M2 strategy officially unveiled in New York one 
month prior to E3. Infamous prerendered racing game 
‘demo’ presented 

June ’95 The first E3 show is the venue for the M2 hype 


machine to start in earnest. Hardware mock-ups and 
silicon are shown behind closed doors 

July ’9s Development kits make it to select third 
parties. 15 titles confirmed to be in development, 11 of 
which are “AAA titles” according to a 3DO source 

Sept ’95 NG meets Dave Needle and R.J. Mical, who 
head up the M2 development team. A stand-alone M2 
console is promised for ’96/7 

Dec '95 M2 blueprints net 3DO $100 million as 
Matsushita picks up the rights to the technology. 3DO 
commits to software-only strategy 

Feb ’96 Rumors fly around the Net linking Sega to M2. 
The Japanese company takes a 
development station for evaluation 

Apr ’96 Sega denies connection with M2 and is 
underwhelmed with dev kit. Konami signs up as first 
arcade licensee 


July ’96 Matsushita ramps up the power of M2's 
technology by adding a second PowerPC 602 

Aug ’96 NG visits Panasonic Wondertainment in Tokyo 
where the M2 console is being developed. A January ’97 
launch announcement is penciled in 

Jan ’97 UK developer Perceptions unveils work on its 
M2 game, Power Crystal, while Matsushita unofficially 
hints at delaying its launch plans 

Feb ’97 At the AOU show in Tokyo Konami shows off first 
game to use the M2 technology. Polystars. No mention 
of M2 is made 

May ’97 NG receives confirmation from M2 insiders: the 
project is officially canned 

July ‘97 an official announcement is made by 
Matsushita president, Yoichi Morishita for plans to use 
M2 technology in multi-media unit similar to the failed 
CD-i or Pippin units 



warp's grand-looking 02 might 
be PC bound — a Saturn 
conversion looks unfeasible 


releases, which would probably have 
condemned the platform in the long 
term anyway." 

While those who sat on the 
fence throughout the machine's 
development can thank their 
consciences for being prudent, 
there's no denying that this decision 
represents a final kick in the teeth for 
those who stood by the format during 
its teething problems. Committed 
Japanese developer warp certainly 
has the most at stake. The company's 
real-time 3D adventure game, 02, has 
been in development since the very 
first M2 development kits were 
released by The 3DO Company over 
two years ago, and this news leaves 
boss Kenji Eno with little choice but to 
consider porting the title to a 32-bit 
console or perhaps even the PC. 

A similar course of action seems 
likely for other known M2 titles in 
development such as Power Crystal 
(NG 29) and Studio 3DO's M2 Racing. 


The latter was a title that originally 
lead the M2 hype charge and was 
revealed to u.S. game magazines 
recently, probably in an effort to draw 
attention to the title and to secure 
conversion rights for the aborted 
project. However, when NG contacted 
the developer for a comment about 
the move, the company denied all 
knowledge of the cancellation. As for 
Hull-based Perceptions, NG was 
unable to contact the company for a 
comment on the situation. 

While all plans for a dedicated 
gaming console incarnation of the M2 
technology have been abandoned, its 
implementation in the arcade is 
continuing. Despite Panasonic's plans 
to play down Konami's use of the M2 
technology in its Polystars coin-op, 
the arcade company is expecting to 
release another polygon-based game 
soon. Capcom will follow suit (with a 
3D beat 'em up) shortly after. It's also 
possible that titles in development for 
the console could still be ported to 
the arcade board. 

With its interminable 
development delays, M2's perceived 
advantages over the competition 
have naturally suffered at the hands 
of time. With Sega and Sony already 
well into the development of their 
own second generation of 
superconsoles, the most Matsushita 
could have hoped for was a 
technological lead of about a year 
before more powerful machines 
would have eclipsed it. A likely 
destination for the complete M2 
technology could be a 3D card for 
the PC, although other consumer 
goods employing the technology 
cannot be ruled out. 

Considering the sheer worldwide 
market presence of Matsushita, it 
seems likely that a new strategy 
using the experience assimilated 


from its work on M2 will be used to 
formulate a brand new videogaming 
agenda — NG has already heard 
rumors of a much higher hardware 
specification and one that probably 
also encompasses DVD and internet 
initiatives. What does seem clear, 
though, is that the company has 
realized that it will need a foolproof 
launch strategy if it is to stand a 
chance against the vast market 
share currently enjoyed by Sony. M2 
in its current form clearly was not up 
to the job. 

This turn of events ultimately 
places Matsushita in a difficult 
position. There is the embarrassment 
felt toward the third parties that have 
committed precious resources to 
developing titles, and there is the 
technology itself that could go to 
waste — a crying shame after so 
many promises. Matsushita may be 
able to stomach the enormous losses 
involved in the decision, but this will 
be no compensation for the third 
parties who now face the biggest 
obstacle of all: a console r^v~i 
consigned to the shelf. UU° i 


What is it? 

This pioneering hand-held console 
featured 16 color graphics (from a 
palette of 4096), eight-person multi¬ 
player options and had hardware- 
based scaling. It also boasts some of 
the best arcade conversions of its 
day. It was designed at software 
house Epyx and released in 1990. 


















i New Tech: 

J Tools to die for 

5 

gj New software toolkits nearly bring game creation to the masses 

z 


It is... 

The Atari Lynx. Epyx’s engineers 
were so upset when the system was 
sold to Atari they left the company, 
eventually hooking up with Trip 
Hawkins and leading development 
on 3DO. The Lynx, with pathetic 
software and marketing support 
from Atari, lost to Game Boy 


G ame creation has always 
been a high-tech affair, and 
as such has always attracted 
high-tech gurus. This goes a long way 
toward explaining why the majority of 
game content has always fallen into 
the science fiction or fantasy genres, 
the favorite stomping ground of the 
computer literate who created 
content simultaneously with 
programming game engines. But as 
games have become increasingly 
sophisticated, so have the tools 
available to developers. With this 
increasing sophistication, however, 
has come increasing ease of use, and 
in the last few years this has come 
closer and closer to bringing content 
creation within the grasp of those 
who can barely code at all. 

That's the idea behind Newfire, 
founded in 1995 by Alan Wootton, 
formerly with Adobe, and Martin Hess, 


formerly of Apple. 
Nearing release as 
Next Generation 
went to press, 
Newfire's line 
includes two 
software 

packages, Catalyst 
and Torch. Torch is 
a relatively fast, 
real-time 3D game 
engine — "It runs 
within 10% of the 
performance of 
the top engines out 
there," boasts 



Motion Factory's "Jack" demo shows off the Motivate 
software with a fully independent giant 


Wootton — while 
Catalyst is the toolset for creating 
environments within it. 

The interesting thing about 
Newfire's approach is that Torch 
actually runs as a plug-in for either 
Netscape or Microsoft Explorer under 


Win95 or Win NT, and Catalyst uses 
VRML 2.0 standards for object 
formats, and Java for Al and object- 
behavior scripting. While objects must 
be created elsewhere, such as 3D 
Studio MAX or Lightwave, the game 



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creation interface is point-and-click, 
drag-and-drop, allowing real-time 
playback of the game as it is written. 
Further, the whole system is, as these 
things go, incredibly cheap: MSRP for 
Catalyst is currently aimed at $1995. 

Pepper's Ghost an English 
company known for its avatar creation 
software for use with VRML worlds, 
should also have a suite of tools 
available later this year. It is divided 
into three modules, one 
for the "screenplay," one 
for animation and 
direction, and the last for 
adding interaction. The set 
is mostly geared towards 
producing either non¬ 
interactive 3D "movies," or the kind of 
multiple-branching, conversation tree 
style graphic adventure which seem 
on the verge of dying out. Still, the 
beauty of the system is that it requires 
no coding knowledge whatsoever. 

Perhaps the most exciting toolset 
on the horizon, due to ship sometime 
by the end of the year, is Motivate 
from Motion Factory. Billed as the 
"intelligent Digital Actor System," the 
thought behind the package is that 
game design has reached the point of 
fully interactive 3D, but what is there 
to interact with? Based on some eight 
years of research in robotics and six 


years in process control (complex 
routing systems such as electric 
power grids and phone-switching 
systems), Motivate is a suite of tools 
which allow users to create highly 
complex systems of character 
behavior in the simplest way possible, 
automating much of the process and 
allowing designers to concentrate on 
the effects of Al, rather than the 
process of programming it. 


it's becoming easier for non¬ 
programmers to create content 


Motivate supports 3DS MAX and 
DXF object formats directly, and once 
the character model is imported, the 
designer begins by defining a very 
simple series of actions, which are 
called "skills" within the program. Skills 
can be defined as simply as animating 
two keyframes of extending an arm 
and calling it "grab." Motivate uses a 
proprietary scripting language called 
Piccolo, whose syntax and usage is 
extremely close to Java or Visual 
Basic. Although there is some 
scripting, most scripts are short 
enough that little elegance is needed 
in the code. The scripts, model 


hierarchies, and animations are then 
arranged within an icon-based, point- 
and-click interface in a flowchart-like 
"Behavior Machine." 

The process, at least as 
demonstrated to Next Generation, 
appears remarkable. Motivated built- 
in IK enables the character to "know" 
the limits of its own physiology. Using 
the above example, when instructed 
to "grab" an object, the object's 
location was 
immaterial: on a shelf 
or tabletop, on the 
floor or across the 
room, the character 
simply understood the 
correct way to extend 
its arm and touch the object. 

What all this means, however, is 
that it's becoming increasingly easy 
for non-programmers to develop 
content, potentially opening the field 
to a more diverse range of creative 
influences, approaches, and subjects. 
Catalyst and Torch, in particular, show 
the promise of reviving "garage" 
projects, since its low cost puts it in 
reach of enthusiasts (or small groups 
of enthusiasts) with grand visions but 
minimal computer savvy, watch for 
full hands-on reports in upcoming 
editions of NG's "Toolbox" 
over the coming months. 




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NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


breaking 


Macintosh: 

Not dead yet 

The performance of key PC ports demonstrates the 
Mac's continuing viability as a game platform 


nyone who says you can't 
make money with Mac 
games is dead wrong, says 
Peter Tamte, VP of GT interactive's 
MacSoft division. Duke Nukem 3D for 
Mac made a profit its first day on 
store shelves, he says. In the five 
weeks Mac Duke's been available, 

52% of orders are for replenishing 
store shelves, he reports. 

Tamte expects Mac Quake, slated 
to release August 1, to do nearly as 
well. MacSoft will also release ports of 
Civilization //, Master of Orion //, unreal 
and Shadow Warrior. The preorders 
for Quake have already paid 
for the production costs. 

Craig Fryar, creator of 
the classic Spectre, 
and one of 

Macintosh's strongest 
proponents, describes 
the publisher's 
situation. "That's all they 
need to know, is can they 
make money," Fryar says. 

And Quake will look good on the 
Macintosh, thanks to Techworks and 
3Dfx. At E3, the two companies 
unveiled the Power3D accelerator, 
based on 3Dfx's voodoo technology. 
There are over 50 Mac titles in 
development for the card, including 
surefire sellers such as Unreal, 
Mechwarrior 2, Falcon 4.0, MDK, and 
Dark vengeance. 

Porting high-profile, proven 
sellers on the PC side to a ready¬ 
made pool of buyers seems to be a 
smart philosophy for MacSoft. The 
company's recent Mac-only releases, 
Prime Target and Damage 
incorporated are not faring as well. 
"With Mac-only titles we definitely 
have problems," Tamte says. "Retailers 
are still very apprehensive about the 
Mac market." 


Other Mac-only games aren't so 
lucky, either. Amber, an adventure 
game released late last year by 
Changeling, received stellar reviews, 
yet had disappointing sales Company 
president Jeanine DeSocio attributes 
the problem to difficulties in getting 
the product in the retail channel, 
saying that retailers only pick up ports 
of A+ PC titles, or past best sellers. 
Retailers also expect titles to sell 
through in 60 days, she says, while "in 
our experience for the Mac, there's a 
year and a half pull-through." In what 
turns out to be a self-fulfilling 

prophesy, "the perception is 
that the Mac's a dead 
market," she says. 
Changeling currently is 
beta-testing space- 
arcade game Ares, 
but DeSocio is 
apprehensive about its 
chance at shelf space. 
Tamte doesn't consider 
distribution issues the primary 
problem. "I would say the critical issue 
is the installed base of Power 
Macintoshes," he says Power Mac 
sales have been increasing recently, 
and Tamte remains optimistic "I'm 
very encouraged about Mac right 
now," Tamte says. "June was a good 
month for Mac retailers." 

But is a top seller in the Mac 
market enough to make money? PC 
Data reports show The LucasArts 
Macintosh Archives Vol. II Star Wars 
Collection was the platform's top 
selling game for March through May 
of this year, but total units sold during 
those months are only slightly over 
15,000 units. Though he declined to 
give an exact unit count, Tamte claims 
that Duke Nukem sales for just its first 
five weeks are at least double 
that figure. fr^'cT 





Development news as it develops 


Boss Games Studios has announced it’s second N64 title, 
Twisted Edge Snowboarding. Just entering development, this 
racing game pits snowboarders against 
each other on extreme mountain 
courses. Boss will be recycling much of 
the code from its first N64 game, Top 
Gear Rally. And like Top Gear Rally, 

Twisted Edge will be published by 

Kemco. Expect to see it in stores during the first quarter of ‘98. 


BUSS 


MicroProse has secured the rights to develop a Starship 
Troopers game for the PC. Based on the popular Robert Heinlein 
novel and sci-fi film of the same name. 
Troopers follows a group of future soldiers 
who battle swarms of giant alien insects. It is 
unclear at this time what genre the game will 
fall into. However, the action flick is due this 
November, while the game is scheduled for a 
‘98 release. 



Tecmo’s Model 2 arcade fighter, Dead or Alive, is coming to 
Saturn and PlayStation. The arcade version’s characters, moves, 
and overall graphical effects are on par with Virtua Fighter 2. 
How well the home conversions will fare has yet to be seen. 


More Duke Nukem ? Little is known about the project, but GT 
Interactive has developer N-Space working on a Duke licensed 
third-person action title for the PlayStation. Perhaps due to the 
similarity in perspective to another hot third-person adventure, 
the game has internally been nicknamed ‘Duke Raider.’ It will 
more than likely be a mid ‘98 release. 


Return of the Neo-Geo? The stunning Hyper Neo-Geo 64 arcade 
system from SNK is on test in Japan right now, and US gamers 
should see arcade units show up by the holidays. Look for a full 
alpha next month. 


Pulse, of Bad Mojo roach fame, has secured the rights to the 
fascinating A-Life game AquaZone. The game is a total fish-tank 
simulation, and should appeal to fans of A-Life and virtual pets. 



While EA may hold the NASCAR license, ASC has signed NASCAR 
racing sensation Jeff Gordon to endorse an upcoming racing title. 
(Gordon is currently the ’97 circuit’s leading 
money winner). According to ASC, Gordon 
is a gaming enthusiast who is not 
just lending his name to the 
title; he will be a 
consultant in the game’s 
development from the 
design point onward. 


































LLECTION OF GAMES 

GHS IN THE FACE OF 

HNOLOGY 


Alas, video gaming technology 
It keeps getting updated and 

OUTDATED FASTER AND FASTER. 

Who'll stop this madness? Namco • 
and the Museum Collection, Volume 4. 

Five state-of-the art (well, maybe ten years 

AGO) GAMES BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT FUN NEVER GOES OUT 
OF STYLE. PAC-LAND - A WILD AND CRAZY PAC-MAN ADVENTURE. ASSAULT 
THE TANK WARFARE CLASSIC. ORDYNE - AN INTENSE, RAPID FIRE 
SHOOTER FROM THE ARCADES. PLUS, THE RETURN OF 
ISHTAR, AND THE GENJI AND THE HEIKE CLANS. EACH 
ONE AN ABSOLUTE BLAST. GO AHEAD AND PLAY IT FOR 
YOURSELF. JUST don't BE surprised if you're soon 
LAUGHING IN THE FACE OF TECHNOLOGY, TOO. 

{great games have never had to be high-tech to be hii 

* 




siwgfl 











NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


breaking 


PlayStation's 

Missing Thunder 

They're rumbling away in Japan, but Sony's US Dual Analog Pad will ship without feedback 


26 



S ony has revealed that it has 
cut the vibrating feedback 
from its U.S. Dual Analog 
Control Pad, and plans on releasing 
the controller "sans shakes" this 
September. Rally Cross (from Sony's 
first-party San Diego studios) 
supports the vibration API, as do 
Japanese titles Bushido Blade and 
Tobal #2, which work with the 
already available, feedback-enabled, 
Japanese controller. 

So why kill the good vibes? The 


It is highly plausible that 
feedback became a price issue 


official story, according to a Sony 
spokesperson, is that "We evaluated 
all the features and decided, for 
manufacturing reasons, that what 
was most important to gamers was 
the analog feature." 

what's that mean? One 
developer's theory is that "repeated 
use of the force-feedback breaks the 
controller's inner components." 
Another thinks manufacturing issues 
are a smoke screen and that, "legally, 
Sony's very cautious, and is afraid of 
patent infringement on Nintendo's 
Jolt Pack." However, a spokesperson 
for Nintendo assured Next 


Generation that Nintendo had not 
taken any legal action against Sony 
whatsoever. 

The best theory makes a simple 
yet highly plausible argument 
(especially given Sony's stated 
manufacturing concerns): feedback 
became a price issue. To 
understand this, it is necessary take 
a step back, and consider the 
design of the controller. The main 
purpose of the new controller is to 
give users the full range of controls 
analog offers over the current 
standard digital directional pad. To 
keep the price down, and encourage 
people to buy it, Sony made a 
decision to scrap the feedback, or so 
the theory goes. 

Why is analog control so 
important to Sony? A look at N64 
makes it obvious. The packed-in N64 
analog controller enabled Mario 64 to 
become the best-controlling 3D 
adventure of all time. Analog control 
is, simply put, the best input device 
for navigating 3D environments. 

In an effort to extinguish some 
of Mario's fire, Sony plans to release 
a number of titles this fall to support 
this new analog pad, most notably 
3D platformers like Crash Bandicoot 
2, and Blasto. Other third party 
support is coming via Crystal 


Dynamics's Gex: Enter the Gecko, 
Fox interactive's Croc, EA's ReBoot, 
and Namco's Pac-Man: Ghost Zone. 
But it's going to take more than a 
few action titles to convince 
PlayStation owners to upgrade their 
controllers, and in trying to convince 
third party developers and publishers 
to support the Dual Analog Control 
Pad, Sony is going to have to make 
the controller available at a very 
reasonable price — especially if a 
decision is made (as we expect) to 
pack-in the analog controller with 
the PlayStation. 

Still, anyone who has 
experienced the true force feedback 
technology that is making its way 
onto the PC (via immersion and 
Microsoft) realizes Nintendo's Jolt 
Pack and Sony of Japan's vibrating 
analog controller are Neanderthal in 
comparison. As gimmicky as they are, 
though, these low-budget tactile 
feedback designs are the first for 
console systems, and subsequently, 
are the foundation for future console 
force feedback experiences. 

It's unfortunate for the U.S. 
audience to lose feedback, but 
hardcore enthusiasts who play 
import titles can simply get Japan's 
Dual Analog Control Pad (we rrv-i 
paid $40 from one importer). 






















SOME KILL! FOR 


16 MULTI LAYERED 
ARENAS OF COMBAT 
contain hidden rooms and secret levels for 
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10 DEADLY CLASSES OF DROIDS each one more THE ULTIMATE COMBAT CHALLENGE you must first 3-D ENVIRONMENT WITH FULL 360° ATTACK MOBILITY 

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Developed by Eurocom teen 

Windows 95 licensed by Sony Computer Entertainment America (or use with the PlayStation gome console. PloySlotion ond the PlayStation logo ore trademarks ol Sony Computer mu P 

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NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


Movers and 
Shakers 


The business news that affects the games you play 


This month we've traded the newsline / 
bottomline format for an in-depth look at some 
of the fallout from June's E3 show. 

Sega on the Threshold 

Only the videogame industry could concoct an 
annual showpiece in which the most exciting 
exhibit was also the least impressive. We're 
talking about the Sega booth. 

Sega's booth was a trembling Carthage to 
Sony's imperious Rome. It was sad Alderran to 
Nintendo's rampaging Death Star. It looked like 
the home of a dishevelled company lost in dark 
disarray and confusion. 

PC sports games jostled with Saturn 
platformers mingled with NetLink gadgets 
which mixed it with arcade hits. The message 
was: "We have no message. We have lost our 
way." What a mess. 

But underneath all that bizarre and 
swayingly pointless eclecticism rumbles a quiet 
but highly attractive rage. It is Sega's potential 
which makes it the most exciting company in 
videogaming right now. 

This silent energy is born of the knowledge 
that Sega's next foray into the hardware markets 
will be its last chance for glory. If Sega is not on 
the front pages this time next year, it will surely 
be found in the obituaries. 

Much has been made online about what 
Black Belt will be. But there's been precious little 
mention of when it will be. Sega-watchers are 
privately convinced that the company will make 
its next generation attack on the market some 
time in 1998, that the new machine will be on 
display this time next year, and that it will be 
available at Christmas. It's time to start talking 
up Black Belt like it's going to be the next big 
thing in games. 

Sega is searing with utter fury at the fashion 
in which it has been humiliated by Sony. The 
history of Saturn — not including development 
houses in Japan, where it still holds a 
comfortable niche — has been one of 
incompetence. By contrast, the PlayStation story 
is a model of smart marketing, decent product, 
and ferocious organization. 

Sega has had enough, it is currently 
planning the new generation, but without the 
screw-ups. This time it holds certain weapons, all 
of which have been paid for with the dear 
currency of experience. 

The first will be the ease with which games 
can be developed for the machine, thanks to its 




PC accelerator-based technology (at press time, 
some form of NEC's PowerVR chipset is the front 
runner, although 3Dfx's Voodoo is still in 
contention). Third parties relish Sega's eminently 
smart approach to bringing the PC and the 
console closer together. 

Second is a new ad agency, and the 
memory of that awful ad campaign back in '95 
which launched Saturn. Sega is not coming into 
this round with the residual arrogance of the 
early 1990s. Expect some of the marketing which 
made it great in '88. 

Third is a self-proclaimed ability to get it 
right where others have got it wrong, if there is a 
criticism of PlayStation, it's the menagerie of 
poor games. If there is 
shortage of good games — indeed, many 
games at all. Sega knows it can make good 
games, and it says it can deliver the right mix 
from both first party and third party 
sources. The company has ruthlessly 
sliced back its release schedule for '97 
(admittedly, this has been forced by 
circumstance) and a quick look down 
its schedule yields 
a high percentage 
of A and B games, with plenty of 
resources left over to commit to 
a new platform. 

Fourth is a growing 
presence in the PC market 
and in the online market. 

At the moment Sega is 
weak in both areas, but 
it is there, and it is 
growing. Yet the 
essential truth is that 
Sega has an online 
strategy in the first 
place, which is more 
than can be said of 
its more focused 
competitors. No 
one is sure 
exactly how 
these interests will 
benefit the new 
platform, but some 
benefit is almost certain. 

Fifth is the "wait and see" 
factor. Unlike the launch of Saturn 
in '95, there are no obvious new 
platforms looming on the horizon. 

PlayStation's roaring success makes a 


by Colin 
Campbell 

Colin Campbell is 
Next Generation's 

International 

Correspondent 


28 











sequel hard to imagine in the short term (and 
Sony has a looming "sophomore album" 
syndrome on its hands). Nintendo 64 is still a 
wee pup, and given Nintendo's track record, it 
will be the last company to release a new 
machine. 

Black Belt could be state of the art through 
the last year of this Millennium, and likely into 
the first year of the next, welcome back Sega. 

Size matters 

Two things were missing from E3. Small 
publishers and very big publishers. The show was 
completely dominated by companies which are 
large (but not too large), and which boast a firm 
base in the videogame industry. 

For the first time since the hey-nonny- 
nonny 16-bit days, super entertainment 
behemoths such as Time Warner and Universal 
stayed at home. Judging by what they brought to 
previous events, this can only be judged as a 
good thing. Only Fox is still in the chase, and 
cynics are already suggesting that its best 
games are behind it. 

Likewise, there were no small publishers in 
the main hall. Maxis sported its own stand, but it 
will become part of EA's world next year 
following their well-fitted "merger." Likewise, 
Singletrac has likely shown the way of the future 
for ambitious, talented development houses that 
wish to become publishers. Realizing the scale of 
going it alone, the company opted to become 
part of a publisher instead (GT). While this is 
probably good for GT and Singletrac, the trend is 
perhaps not so promising for the industry as a 
whole. Small publishers are a good thing. 

Making Media Work 

One of the unsung triumphs of E3 was Eidos' 
proven ability to deal with the new realities of 
the media. The company organized exclusives 


not only with monthly magazines, but also with 
daily websites. All was prettily designed to 
coincide with the show. 

in terms of depth, the website content 
differed vastly from magazine content, with 
websites granted the bulk of the sound bites, 
and print receiving loads of pictures. Yet each 
was appropriate to the given medium. It was a 
smart move. 

Many online magazines have not endeared 
themselves to industry publicists because, by 
definition, they operate outside the realm of 
monthly deadlines. But instead of taking the 
professional Eidos approach, too many have 
resorted to conflict. There has even been some 
fatuous posturing along the lines of "they need 
us more than we need them". 

At best, this shows a misunderstanding of 
the press' function. At worse it betrays 
contempt. 


Atlanta Blues 

A final note about E3 '97: going by the numbers, 
it was a dismal letdown. Given the added 
expense and trouble incurred by shipping the 
west-coast-heavy videogames industry some 
3000 miles east, it's perhaps unsurprising that 
attendance was down 37% from the previous 
year in L.A. Although the main show floor was 
huge, it was long, narrow and difficult to 
navigate. And still, many companies consigned to 
the secondary Georgia Dome site packed up and 
left early due to the emptiness of the Dome, and 
may not return for '98. 

Combined with the deadly Southern 
humidity, the ISDA, which runs E3, may 
find a deathly empty building next year. 


Visit Next Generation Online, the #1 computer 
and videogame website at http://www.next- 
generation.com/ it's updated every day... 


Stuff every gamer should 
know. This month, it’s hip 
to be Square. 

No. 13 Squaresoft 

Squaresoft? Never heard of’em. Get out from 
under that rock and listen. Square has been 
the leader in console RPGs for ten years now. 

It has produced such 16-bit classics as Chrono 
Trigger, the S eiken Densetsu series (known in 
the U.S. as Final Fantasy Adventure and Secret 
of Mona 1 and 2), and, of course, the Final 
Fantasy series, which has sold millions of 
copies worldwide. What about 32-bit games? 
Well, its first, Total No. 1, wasn’t very 
successful (it owes its Japanese success to the 
Final Fantasy VII demo bundled with it), but 
the follow-up, the weapons sim Bushido 
Blade, was a five star game. Final Fantasy VII 
has already sold three million copies in Japan, 
and Final Fantasy Tactics, its Vandal Hearts- 
style strategy RPG, will most likely sell just as 
many. Okay, so I’ve seen Final Fantasy I, II, 
and III. Why is the new one called VII? 
Because the others never saw a U.S. release. 
Final Fantasy II is really Final Fantasy IV, and 
III is really VI. VII is VII, though. This is rather 
confusing. If the first one was called “Final” 
Fantasy, why are they working on the 
eighth? Don’t ask; it’s a Japanese thing, you 
wouldn’t understand. 



Final Fantasy has gone from 
primative graphics (top) to 3D 
(above), without losing any of 
its world conquering gameplay 


29 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


Joyriding 


A lmost every week, someone calls me 
claiming that, "our company is going 
to change online gaming," or, "our new 
online game is unlike anything you've ever seen 
before." Inevitably, the games in question tend 
to be mutations of existing genres or simple 
multiplayer hacks for what were essentially 
single player games to begin with. To sum up; 
usually disappointing. 

Recently, one such company did not 
disappoint, in fact, it's building a number of 


While the guys at Multitude admit that 
initially people may have trouble stepping up to 
the task of interacting with strangers, they 
believe the advantages offered to gamers who 
use microphones (which will be included with 
the planned retail component) over those who 
do not will force people into the voice modes. 
The voice support autosenses when something 
is said into the microphone, so there is no button 
to push or anything to get in the way of fast 
communications. Imagine playing Quake (in all of 


by Christian 
Svensson 

Christian Svensson is 
the editor of Next 
Generation Online 



The results are amazing. For once it's true: no 
one has done it this way before 


interesting elements into a fairly basic game, 
and the results are amazing. For once it's true: 
no one has done it this way before. 

That company is Multitude and the game in 
question is FireTeam. The game is being 
designed by Ned Lerner ( Ultima Underworld ), 

Art Min ( Terra Nova) and James Morris (creator 
of the M2 graphics libraries, tools, and operating 
system). The company’s chairman is Jim Whims, 
executive vice-president of Sony during the 
launch of PlayStation. 

The game could best be summed up as a 
real-time X-Com, in which each person controls 
a single character in an isometric environment 
(for more on the gameplay, see the FireTeam 
Alpha on page 78). 

Multitude's servers will perform automatic 
team and individual stat tracking, and provide 
ladder rankings on the fly. As people hold given 
positions on ladder rankings, they will be able to 
occasionally use "special" characters, some 
with better weapons, more stealth, heavier 
armor, or omniscience (the ability to see 
everything on screen instead of just their field 
of view). Such a dynamic element is unlike 
almost anything else in online gaming today, 
and will almost certainly be copied in the future. 
The most impressive feature, though, may be 
the voice technology, which enables players to 
speak to each other — without voice modems. 

When playing the game in a two-on-two 
match-up of the most simple version, "capture 
the flag," communication between players is 
essential. Calls of "I’m heading around the 
corner to the left, cover around the right corner 
and we'll converge at the flag," are the norm. 
Teammates call for help as they are double- 
teamed, and the adrenaline rushes as one runs 
to the other side of the level to try and assist 
teammates who have run into trouble. The voice 
element is as integral to the suspense and rush 
as the gameplay. 


its team forms) this way — awesome. 

Multitude has patented portions of its voice 
technology and already the company is being 
approached to license it to others. The 
technology is primarily based on the client side, 
with the server itself not decompressing any of 
the voice data, instead, all the server does is 
decide which of the other clients should receive 
the voice streams and the client does all of the 
mixing. Breaking players into squads or teams 
greatly reduced the number of voices needed 
downstream. As a result, players usually only 
speak with their teammates, but it is possible to 
change your broadcast so that you are speaking 
to a specific player, or to the opposing team. 

The Multitude technology is also codec 
independent, in demos, Fireteam has been 
shown running using the LNH codec, but it's also 


weeks. As an example, the team 
demonstrated a Jurassic Park- type game, in 
which one team was a bunch of raptors trying 
to escape from an island, while the other was 
a group of dinosaur hunters. The futuristic 
tunnels and "capture the flag"-type game 
shown earlier was completely replaced with a 
jungle and pyramid scheme that was entirely 
different. New characters, weapons, and play 
mechanics (via a complex scripting language 
and simple GUI tile editor) enabled the 
creation of that game in less than a week. As 
an interesting side note, the editor and the 
scripting language will be released to the 
public for people to design their own mods. 

According to Ned Lerner, the company 
could do variants based upon single episodes 
of the "X-Files" or other television shows. So 
if Fox wanted to promote a given series every 
week, instead of simply watching Mulder and 
his FBI team exploring a UFO, you and your 
team could be doing it the next week. 
Logically, Fox would pay for the opportunity 
to promote their series in such a fashion. 
Likewise if a movie studio wanted to promote 


The voice element is as integral to the 
suspense and the rush as the gameplay 


used a Voxware codec as well. The team at 
Multitude felt that while voxware offered the 
best compression, it also had the least desirable 
sound quality. As a result, Multitude is likely to 
devise its own codec, which will deliver superior 
results as well as save on licensing fees. 

On the business side, FireTeam will be 
distributed via a retail package, expected to cost 
between $20 to $30. with that package people 
will receive a set of headphones and mike, as 
well as some amount of free time on the service. 
The service itself will be based on cost per time, 
but whether the billing period will be days or 
months has yet to be decided. Additional 
revenue will be garnered via advertising, but 
there is another twist as well to Multitude's 
revenue schemes and gameplay attraction. 

Multitude has asserted that an entirely new 
game can be built using its engine in one to two 


its newest action movie, Multitude could have 
a special version of the game prepared for 
them well in advance of the opening 
weekend (it would certainly beat the silly Java 
games that simply overcrowd so many movie 
web sites). The major advantage for Multitude 
and its potential contractees in this situation 
is the timeliness of the game. 

On another side note, the design team 
indicated the ability to even look to current 
events to inspire new elements. So you think 
going into the Japanese embassy to rescue 
the hostages should have been done sooner? 
How about a complete model of the embassy 
provided for your entertainment complete 
with hostages, terrorists, and SWAT teams to 
satisfy your desire for justice? The 
possibilities here are nearly limitless, if f 
promoted correctly, so is the revenue. 


30 




















PlayStatio 




NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


Arcadia 

The latest arcade and coin-op news 


A Work of Art 

You won't ask "who needs another fighting 
game" when you get a look at Mace: The Dark 
Age, Atari's powerful new 3D fighting game with 
a rich medieval theme. Two years were spent 
making sure this title stands out from the pack, 
and six months ago, a rough version of Mace in 
Atari's R&D department knocked our socks off. 
One of the most visually spectacular games 
we've ever seen, it uses hardware based on 
3Dfx's Voodoo chipset (the same technology that 
powers Atari's San Francisco Rush). 

Mace features 10 player-selectable 
characters and two bosses. Six more hidden 
characters are on the roster; most of which will 
be time-released to keep players coming back. 


Mace has a number of innovative features, 
including complete 3D character movement; true 
multi-level playfields with ledges, steps, and 
ramps that characters can walk, run, and fight on; 
dangerous arena boundaries such as lava, 
quicksand, fire, spikes, and deep water which 
characters can wade through or fall into; and 
interactive and throwable playfield objects such 
as tents, urns and tables. Each character gets a 
secret finishing move, too. Get info about local 
tournaments (plus tips and playing secrets) by 
checking out the Mace page on the internet— 
which can be found within www.atarigames.com. 

Atari, Past & Future 

Atari Games, the company that started the 
arcade and home video industries, marked its 
25th anniversary on July 27,1997. Its first product 
was Pong. Dan van Elderen started with Atari as a 
young engineer fresh out of college and he's 
been with Atari ever since. For the past three 


years, he's served as the company's president. 
"Dan Van," as friends call him, is pleased to helm a 
company that's enjoying a huge renaissance, due 
in no small part to his leadership, according to 
many longtime Atarians. 

“San Francisco Rush looks like it will probably 
be our most successful driving game ever — and 
we've had a lot of them!" Dan Van says with a 
smile. He reports that the current arcade game 
product development cycle runs 12 to 18 months, 
and the cost to develop a single product is 
typically $2 million. "With creative barriers to 
compete in this industry so high, it's unlikely we'll 
see another new coin-op video game 
manufacturing company entering the market." 

Dan Van expects that, "networking and 

interconnectivity will spur the 
next big phase of growth and 
public interest in arcades. 
We're probably five years 
away until broadly using this 
type of technology becomes 
economically feasible, we're 
doing the R&D on it now, 
and we're learning our way 
into it." 

Regardless of which 
direction it eventually takes, 
Atari's president remains 
confident that arcades will 
always have a place in the 
entertainment universe. "It's 
inherently part of our society, 
a segment with a proven and 
permanent role to play," he 
declared. "People have 
always wanted and needed 
out-of-home entertainment, and they like that 
entertainment to have interactive, hi-tech 
components. So long as that need exists — and, 
as l say, l believe it's permanent — then somebody 
will figure out a way to fulfill it. Atari Games plans 
to be one of the 'somebodies' who does this!" 

Sega Finds The Lost world 

Next Generation raved about Sega's 
forthcoming arcade video, Jurassic Park: the Lost 
World, which was arguably the most exciting thing 
at the E3 Show in mid-June. The game is a 
shooting experience for two players, featuring a 
"theater style" cabinet with 50-inch monitor, two 
guns, and four-speaker surround sound. 
Spectacular 3D graphics (achieved via Sega's 
Model 3 board) do justice to the film's dinosaurs. 

Gameplay faithfully mirrors the movie's plot 
(with some new adventures thrown in). As a nice 
non-violent touch, the gun is loaded with 
tranquilizers, not bullets, and the score depends 




on how many lives you save. A team work 
rating at the end of the game is another new 
feature to challenge players' skills 

How good is Lost World ? Some rival 
companies privately admitted: "This game is so 
exciting, it could have become a hit even 
without the licensed property behind it." As 
this column went to press, Sega didn't have a 
release date for Lost World, but you can bet 
eager gamers will be calling Sega five times a 
day to find out. 

More CD Games Aimed 
at Arcades 

Microsoft, Intel and their allies aren't the only 
companies pushing the idea of coin-op games 
on CD-ROM. One or two smaller companies 
are promoting the same basic concept and a 
similar approach. Are these upstarts trying to 
steal Microsoft's and Intel's thunder? Or, are 
they jumping aboard the Microsoft/Intel 
bandwagon? Decide for yourself.. 

One of these is a startup company out of 
Philadelphia called Network Entertainment 
Game Systems (NEGS). They are starting with 
existing proven hits from the home game 
market — figuring that millions of kids don't 
have computers at home and have would love 
to play these hot titles, but never had a 
chance before. Later on, the company intends 
to offer brand-new titles, designed specifically 
to debut on their arcade platform. They also 
say their system will offer the capability to link 
games into a network via modem for 
tournament play. 

Specs include l80Mhz processors, 32MB 
ram and advanced 3D accelerator cards, all 
upgradable. Prime Target by MacSoft is its first 
game; it's a first-person 3D game in which the 
player gets a chance to save the government 
from a violent takeover. There are 25 levels, 
nine different weapons, and the usual hordes 
of villains who come looking for you. It's been 
testing in a Philidelphia-area Champions 
Arcade for some time and should be 
appearing in more arcades by the time this is 
published. For follow-ups, NEGS says it has a 
flying-dogfight game and several 
others in the pipeline. 


32 















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you. call (916) 243-3417. Call 1-800-771-3772 for Game Rating Information. 














NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


breaking 


Online gaming 

explodes— again 

A tidal wave of multiplayer online gaming crashes at E3 


GAME-CjtlTEWAY 

BY CONCCNWC NITWOBK AND UNIfftO GAMLRS ONltNl 



Game Gateway, E Online, 
and Aliens Online were a 
few of the new products 


n his year's E3, notable for 
its lack of killer titles, was 
remarkable for the sheer 
volume of online gaming services 
launched. None of them is likely to 
make Mplayer or TEN nervous for 
quite some time, but the fact that 
there are so many choices should at 
least make the two giants look over 
their shoulders. 

The biggest online news 
was the launch of The Game 
Gateway, a joint venture of 


Concentric, Engage, Kesmai, 
Infogames, and Online PLC. The 
service will consist of a hybrid of 
the most popular titles from each 
company, including Warcraft II, 
Castles ll, Legends of Kesmai, and 
many others. 

Kesmai also inked a deal 
with Fox interactive to help develop 
Aliens Online, an online version of 
Fox's Aliens vs. Predator (see 
preview next issue). The online 
version will feature multiplayer 
contests with as many as 100 
combatants at a time; players will 
be able to control either the aliens 
or the marines. 

With the addition of other 
online services, such as E-Online 


and WorldPlay, the online gaming 
market is becoming as saturated 
as the first-person shoot-em-up 
genre, and nearly as fragmented. 
Currently, gamers who want to play 
all their favorite titles online have 
to subscribe to all of the major 
services (Engage, TEN, Mplayer). 
Duke Nukem 3D, for example, is 
only available on TEN; the same 
holds true with Warcraft ll 


It seems clear that there is 
room for at least one (and probably 
more) major online game service, 
but with so many entrants — each 
with only one or two exclusives 
— a clear leader is unlikely 
to appear before mid-1998. 


Nintendo Arcade System 
Nearly Complete 

Seta finally reveals N64-based arcade board in Tokyo 


34 



seta's board: nearly as simple as 
an N64's, but note extra RAM 


□ full year after Seta 

announced that it was 
working on a Nintendo 
arcade board, its project has reached 
the final development stages. 

Seta, known for its 
hardware and 
development 
projects for Nintendo, 
began work last 
Summer on an arcade 
board called the 
ALECK64. The board is 
an enhanced version of 
the Nintendo 64 that 
shares the same MIPS 
4300 CPU and 


development tools as the home 
console. After over a year of 
progress, the board is finally in 
the last stages of development. 

in the past, Seta has been 
responsible for a variety of Nintendo 
hardware projects (the company 
created development tools for all 
three generations of Nintendo 
consoles). Already, Seta has begun 
distribution of the development 
kits for the new board to arcade 
companies with plans for over 
10,000 units to be sold by the end of 
the year. 

The ALECK64 represents 
Nintendo's move back into the 


arcade market. The company's 
arcade roots reach all the way back 
to the early days of the videogames 
with Donkey Kong, but it hasn't had 
a game in arcades in over a decade 
(the Nintendo-labeled Cruisin' USA 
and Killer Instinct notwithstanding). 

The board may not make it to 
the US, but will be seen in Japan. 

The major test of Nintendo's board 
will be how it compares to the 
current slate of arcade hardware 
systems. How the games for the 
system stand up against those made 
on boards by Sega, Namco and 3Dfx 
will ultimately decide the fate 
Of the ALECK64. 



















Twitchrfeames^ 

Nothing Else!" 


io the PlayStation logos, 






































HMHB 


The only NFL game good 
to put my name on it 


enou 


Jimmy Johnson, Miami Dolphins 


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Motivation, game tips, personnel 
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Coach’s CU^boardT 

Create your own custom 
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An innovative interface 
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Fully Licensed. 


Real NFL teams, logos and 
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Plus Customize Players and 
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Movement Before the Snap. 

“There is so much more in my 
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MAsm 


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© 1997 Interplay Productions. All rights reserved. VR Sports, VR Football and The Difference Is Real are trademarks of Interplay Productions. All rights reserved. Exclusively licensed and distributed by Interplay Productions. 
Developed by Padded Cell Studios, a subdivision of Game Tek, Inc. Jimmy Johnson is a trademark of Golden Cane Enterprises. The NFL shield design is a registered trademark of the National Football League. TM/© 1997 NFLP. 














Back-to-Back Super Bowl Championships 
Four-Time NFL “Coach of the Year” 

36 Consecutive NCAA Victories 




Start Taking Notes. 
October 1997 


Team names, nicknames, logos and other indicia are trademarks of the teams indicated. Officially Licensed Product of the NFL Players. © 1997 PLAYERS INC. The PLAYERS INC. logo is an official trademark of the National 
Football League Players. PlayStation and the PlayStation logo are trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved. All other copyrights and trademarks are the property of their respective owners. 

















from .A 

concept 


/ 


to game 

plan 


How to create a 

design document. 









m 


n the early days games were usually 
designed on the fly. The designer 
(who was probably also the producer, 
programmer, artist and sales team) had an idea 
and he or she sat down at the computer and 
started hacking it out. But in today’s market 
where games are infinitely more complex, this 
kind of approach just isn’t practical, if for no 
other reason than a game designed to today’s 
standards requires a long-term commitment, 
vast amounts of pre-planning, and of course 
daunting financial considerations. Try talking a 
publisher into backing a project that exists 
nowhere but in your head and you’re likely to 
get laughed out of their office (unless you’re 
already an established name in the industry). 
Creating a professional design document says 
to the world that you’re serious about getting 
your game produced and you’re willing to 
prove, on paper, why it deserves to be made. 

But a design document does more than 
give a designer an orderly way to shop their 
game concept around. A well-crafted design 
document sharpens the game idea itself. As 
any designer will readily admit, sometimes the 
ideas in our heads simply don’t work when 
they’re finally put into play in a real game 
design. Sure, it would be nice if one of the 
characters in your new fighting game could fly 
like the eagle he is designed to look like, but in 
putting the game on paper you may discover 
that allowing only one of your characters to fly 
creates a severely unbalanced game. By the 
same token, putting a game down on paper will 
often give birth to a host of new ideas by 
forcing you to think about every aspect of the 
game, and this is in many ways what is most 
important about doing a design document. For 
example, you know what happens in your 


fighting game when one character pulls off his 
special power-up move, but what happens 
when both characters resort to this move at the 
same time? It’s by thinking about this type of 
scenario that your game idea will become a 
deeper and more rounded experience. It’s all 
about thinking it through, planning, organizing, 
and putting your initial ideas through a 
feasibility test. 

While it may not be the most enjoyable 
aspect of game design, due to the level of 
detail required, creating a thorough design 
document is always a step in the right direction 
for quality game design. Knowing exactly how 
to represent your ideas will prove infinitely 
beneficial to the process of taking that game 
idea that’s been swimming around in your head 
and bringing it to the PC or television screen. 
Over the following pages we’ll outline what it 
takes to put together a professional design 
document — we’ll assume you’ve already got a 
great game idea. But even if your game never 
gets made (a likely scenario in today’s 
cutthroat market), going through the process of 
creating a design document is one of the most 
positive exercises a prospective game designer 
can attempt, and the lessons learned are easily 
carried over into your next project. It’s 
important to understand from the start 
however, that unlike the movie industry, in 
which the format for a screenplay is so rigid it 
even determines what kind of font it’s 
acceptable to use, the game industry does not 
yet support a single definition of the term 
“design document.” According to Ian Verchere, 
a senior producer at Radical Entertainment in 
Vancouver, “There are probably as many 
different formats for a design document as 
there are developers and publishers.” 


41 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 










ng special 





‘St 


r 


Pre-Design Document 

Work 


IKK 



o you’ve made the commitment to 
design your game idea and you’re 
ready to get started on the daunting 
task of creating a thorough design document. 
Not so fast! Before you get started it’s best to 
have a few things in order. Since creating a 
design document is a process of moving from 
vague ideas to detailed concepts with every 
step, it is wise to create a smaller scale 
“design treatment” before getting started on 
the actual design document. 

A design treatment is a self-contained 
document that outlines in non-specific and 
non-technical terms what your game is all 


A good design treatment is usually no 
more than one or two pages 


about. The concept is based on a similar 
creature from the movie industry called a 
movie treatment, wherein the basic storyline 
and general requirements are outlined in a 
short and easily digestible format. And just as 
a movie treatment is not the same thing as a 
screenplay, a design treatment is not meant to 
be as detailed as an actual design document. 

What a design treatment will allow you to 
do is to get your game idea, in its most basic 
form, to the point where you can start to feel 
what it will be like on paper. If in doing your 
treatment you find yourself already doubting 
the feasibility of your game, it may be time to 
re-think your idea from the ground up. This is 
also a great time to have other people look at 
your idea and make suggestions before you 



start down the wrong path on a concept which 
might have been very cool with just the 
slightest tweak in direction. Still, don’t worry 
too much if your treatment raises questions 
that can not be easily answered right away. 
With experience, you will learn to differentiate 
those issues that simply require further 
thought from those that indicate real 
problems, but for now a few unanswered 
questions do not necessarily spell tragedy. 

A good design treatment is no more than 
one or two pages, and describes in ambitious 
terms what your game is about. This is your 
chance to get people, including yourself, 
excited about the game, so don’t be afraid to 
make it sound like an earth-shattering 
experience. On the other hand, it’s important 
to keep your documentation (no matter what 
the format) clear and focused. It’s one thing to 
get someone excited about your idea, but it’s 
another to lose them in two pages of fluff. 

Depending on the game’s genre a design 
treatment should include most if not all of the 
following elements: a brief description of the 
storyline, including main character 
descriptions, settings and scenarios; a general 
description of the main character’s actions (if 
the game was Tomb Raider this is where you 
would describe Lara running down a corridor 
shooting bears with two guns at a time); the 
look of the game (is this a 3D dungeon game 
with tight, dark corridors or a futuristic 
adventure game with photo-realistic pre¬ 
rendered backgrounds?); a description of the 
computer Al (“The enemies will search out the 
main character by the amount of noise he 
makes and so it pays to be very quiet. When 
they find him they will surround and overpower 
him.”); a list of development tools which may 
be required; and finally the team members and 
skills you will need to make the game. Once 
the design treatment is in good shape, it’s time 
to get started on the actual design document. 













ng | 


kL 


The Design 

Document 


JF 


Your Personal Situation 

While there are rules that apply to all design 
documents, the general scope of the 
document you are about to create should 
reflect several things about your personal 
situation and how it relates to the 
environment in which games are actually 
produced. If you’re already a game tester at a 
software house, for example, you can 
probably feel pretty confident that someone 
with the authority to green light a project is 
going to actually read your design document. 
This being the case, you might want to 
consider creating a document that not only 
thoroughly pitches your idea (all design 
documents should meet this minimum 
requirement), but also leaves room for further 
development and detail work once your 
superior has been bowled over by the idea 
and rewards you with a full development team 
to help bring out the subtleties. 

If, however, you’re not currently working in 
the game industry you’re going to have a much 
tougher time of actually getting someone to 
look at your document (for legal reasons and 
otherwise), so your strategy will be slightly 
different. This is your chance to sell yourself 
not only as a game designer but as a potential 
employee. According to Connie Booth, 
executive producer at Sony, “If you’re sending 
in a design document to a company without 
wanting to become a full time employee for 
that company — don’t bother.” Hence, your 
design document should reflect the same kind 
of well-rounded confidence that you would 
want to portray in a job interview. This means 
that if there is any single detail that needs 
considering had better be thoroughly 
expressed in your design document. A potential 
publisher is going to want to hire someone who 
can hit the ground running on day one, and a 
complete design document may very well prove 
that you’re up to the challenge. 


N " | ow that you’ve done your pre- 
jj planning in the form of creating a 
■ design treatment and made important 

decisions about the depth of the document 
you’re about to create based on your personal 
situation, it’s time to get started on the actual 
document itself. Again, it’s important to 
remember that everyone’s definition of a 
design document is going to be slightly 
different, and the document explained in the 
following sections will only match some of 
those definitions. The following format, 
however, will be recognized in the industry as 
one of the many acceptable forms, and should 
serve to get your foot in the door. 


The Essential Elements 

What’s This Game All About 

In many ways, this first section of your design 
document is the most important of all. The 
first thing you’re going to want potential 
publishers or marketers or programmers to 
read, after all, is what kind of game you’re 
thinking about making. This basically means 
genre, style and technical features. This is 
also the first time most designers get caught 
up in the “but my game’s not like any other 
game ever and it doesn’t fit into any 
established genre!” dilemma. Let’s face it, it’s 
highly unlikely that your game idea is 100% 
original, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. 



43 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 
















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng 



Writing a long and possibly boring backstory for your game may result in a fabulous fmv 
sequence, but may not make the most interesting content in your design document 


be coming back to later) to make a feature 
clear. If your character runs, jumps, shoots and 
climbs, now is the time to write it down. This is 
not the place to talk about the scene in the 
fourth level where your character must 
traverse the lava pit to find the hidden blue 
key, but it is the place to explain how your 
game will support analog controllers to 
maintain precise control in sticky situations 
like lava pits or how the gameplay revolves 
around mastering your character’s 
sophisticated flying controls. 

After reading this section a person who 
was formerly unfamiliar with your concept 
should have a very good idea of what kind of 
game it is. In this way, the opening description 
of what kind of game you’re hoping to make is 
like the mission statement of your design 
document. You’re basically setting up the rest 
of the document with this opening section, and 
if done correctly you’ll have a thorough and 
self-contained description of your game, 
creating an easy entry point for the reader. 


While very few publishers are going to get 
excited about a game that is billed as and 
designed to be exactly like another existing 
game, the fact is most publishers will feel 
more comfortable if your game shares at least 
some elements with other popular games, and 
hence mentioning that your main character 
will be able to drift through the air similar to 
the character in MDK is not necessarily a bad 
thing. Remember, you’re not only trying to get 
a publisher excited about your idea, you’re 

It’s highly unlikely your idea is 100% 
original — that’s nothing to be ashamed of 


also trying to give them the impression that 
your game can be made. According to John 
Botti, president of Black Ops, “The point of a 
design document is to get everyone on the 
same page,” and this first section is essential 
in trying to achieve that goal. 

An easy way to convey your idea as 
something feasible is to reference all the 
familiar ideas in your game design right up 
front. Remember, the original touches in your 
game will stand out even better when 
visualized in a familiar context. This can be 
done in a number of ways, including 
referencing similar elements in other games by 
giving them the old “it’s like Xevious meets C 
& C Red Alert' comparison, or even using 
illustrations (an important point which we will 


The Story 

Writing out the storyline to your game is one of 
the most dangerous aspects of creating a 
design document. While it’s easy to get carried 
away writing the back story, this is the one 
element of your game design that most 
potential publishers are least interested in. A 
common guideline when writing the back story 
is to keep it to nothing more than one page — 
it can even be as short as one paragraph if 
that’s all it requires. Of course, if your game is 
something story reliant like an RPG or an 
adventure game you may have to break free 
from this guideline. However, it’s still better to 
tell the story in your detailed level descriptions 
than all up front in a long and potentially 
tedious backstory. The main goal of the 
backstory is to set the mood. You’re trying to 
put the game into some kind of context — 
don’t go crazy! 

“I see so many design documents that 
start out ‘It was the year 2095 and evil 
corporations are battling for dwindling mining 
resources!’ but what I want to know about is 
the interaction,” suggests Verchere. 

Detail by Level 

Now it’s time to get specific. Up until this point 
you’ve been trying hook the reader with the 
basic concept of your game idea, but from here 
on out you should detail the game as 
thoroughly as possible. However, there are a 
few things to consider before getting started. 
Probably the most important thing to think 


44 











about is exactly how much of your game can 
be pre-planned. For example, if you’re planning 
a 3D action/platform game, it’s probably going 
to be impossible for you to plan the exact 
placement of every jump, firepit and hidden 
item, as these are all elements that will require 
play testing and experimentation to get the 
best results. 

What you have to do at this point is decide 
which elements can be pre-planned and focus 
on those. On the other hand, it’s important to 
remember that should you be fortunate 
enough to ever get to make your game, things 
will change, so don’t be afraid to plan out — 
and write down — certain details just because 
you think they might have to change. It’s better 
to have a concrete plan going in and have to 
change it than to not have one at all and just 
expect things to work out. “We really try to 
break things down and put even more detail in 
the design document than will probably end up 
in the game,” says Botti. 

The easiest way to create a detailed 
description of your game is by breaking it 
down into some kind of manageable sections. 
Since most games themselves are broken into 
levels or zones, the break points are typically 
pretty easy to determine. If you are designing a 
game that does not adhere to the traditional 
level format you will need to find some other 
way of segmenting your game so that you can 
work with reasonably sized sections. A genre 
that might not easily adhere to this kind of 
strategy is an RPG, but even role playing 
games can be broken down into different 
geographic sections or chapters of the story. 
This is important, so be sure to find some way 
to break things up or you’re likely to get into a 
project which is very difficult to manage. 

Once your game is broken into different 
levels you’ll want to start describing in detail 
how each level will work. This includes how the 
game looks and acts, in what kind of 



in detailing a certain level of a game, such 
as a section of a track, it's important to 
be extremely specific about anything that 
could be considered important 


environment the action takes place, which 
characters are involved, and finally what the 
goal or goals of the level will be. This section 
should also include seemingly insignificant 
details such as what happens if the player fails 
— does he fall flat on his back with blood 
pouring out of his gut, or does an angel fly out 
of his body and float through the ceiling? Even 
if they change in the end, these are the details 
you will be happy to have thought of when it 
comes time to actually make the game. You’ll 
also want to document things like alternate 
paths and potential pitfalls in each level. If 
you’re designing a racing game, for example, 
you might describe a certain section of the 
track that features a hidden shortcut and what 
specific challenges the player will have to 
overcome to gain access to it. 



To begin describing this level in Mario 64, 
you would first want to give it a name such 
as "Race with Penguin stage" 


The following list of elements to include in 
each detailed level/section description is just 
one possible way to organize your thinking. 
Depending on the kind of game you’re 
designing, you may find some of these sub¬ 
categories, or close variations, will help to 
think through every aspect of each level’s 
design, and therefore lead to the creation of a 
well-balanced design document. 

General Description of Each Level 
Just as the general description of your game is 
meant to convey an overall impression of the 
experience, the general description of each 
level will let the reader know what that level is 
all about. If it’s a level in a game such as Mario 
64, you could start by giving the level some 
kind of name such as the Giant Eel Level. Then 
you would explain how this level takes place 
underwater and there is a giant eel around 
which most of the action takes place. After 
that, you might write that the ultimate goal of 
this stage is to collect the star that is attached 


ng | 


to the giant eel’s tail. To get the star the player 
will need to wait above the eel’s cave, and 
when the eel swims out, the player can grab 
the star. Of course, you’ll want to be more 
detailed in your description of elements such 
as the eel, the location of its cave, and what 
you can find in the rest of the level. 

Once the main goal of the level has been 
explained, you should go on to explain more of 
the environmental elements, pitfalls and play 
mechanics. For example about that same level 
of Mario 64 you might write the following 
description: “Since this is an underwater level 
the primary color used will be a deep blue. 
There is also an undulating effect to the water 
to help sell the sensation of being 
submerged.” Then you might go on to explain 
that since Mario can not breath underwater he 
will have to achieve his goals in a hurry, or find 
the secret supply of air hidden amidst the sea 
plants on the sea floor. You could also go on to 
explain how the level will be specifically 
designed to exploit the limited time factor by 
including certain enemies that grab hold of 
Mario, pulling him to the floor of the ocean and 
giving him less time to achieve his goals. 

Finally, it’s important to remember this is 
your opportunity to tell the reader what’s 
important about this level of your game. Your 
main goal is not only to enable the reader to 
clearly visualize the level you’re designing, but 
also to tell them why they should care about it. 
Within the detailed level descriptions this is 
probably the best opportunity to really sell 
each level as something exciting and intriguing 
and so it’s important to pick your words 
carefully in this section. Always remember that 
the language you use to describe something 
says a lot about the way you feel about it. If it 
sounds like you’re describing the game in a 
blase manner, the reader is likely to pick up on 
your attitude and adopt it as part of his or her 
own impression. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty 



in a game such as Wing commander iv 
which relies heavily on story development, 
each level description should include 
specific information on story relevance 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng 



including artwork as part of your design 
document such as these examples from 
Sony's Blasto, is often an essential element 
to a well balanced document 


of time to in the next few sections to list, chart 
and illustrate your points. In this section, 
however, don’t be afraid to be colorful. 

Story Relevance in Each Level 
This section of your document will vary greatly 
depending upon the kind of game you’re 
planning. If you’re designing a fighting game, 
for example, there’s not likely to be much to 
think about insofar as how each fight effects 
the story of the game. However, in a game 
such as Wing Commander IV each mission 
works to advance the plotline, and in a 
carefully constructed game each mission will 
somehow work together to create, in the end, 
a large and cohesive story. 

This is even more important in an 
adventure game or RPG, since there are any 
number of story subtleties that must be 
developed and exploited. Depending on how 


Don’t panic if you can’t find a good artist. 
There are still ways to illustrate your ideas 



your game is arranged, you may also have to 
consider the effects of a branching story line. If 
the player is given the opportunity to set 
his/her own course through your game, you 
will have to be ready for all possible choices 
and what consequences certain choices may 
carry, and here is the place to work through 
these considerations. 

If you’re designing a story-based game, 
this section is a good place to not only detail 
some of the characters you’ll be meeting in 
each level and explain their relevance to the 


overall game but also to put this “chapter” of 
the game into the right context. It’s easy to 
write for days about the scene where your 
character finally finds the secret entrance to 
the castle and battles the evil emperor’s finest 
soldiers as part of his ultimate victory over the 
dark side, but if you forget to detail your 
character’s meeting with the old wise man who 
first informs him about the existence of the 
secret entrance, then you’ve left an important 
hole in your design document. 

Of course, this does not mean you need to 
go on at length about the barmaid who offers 
your character a pint of ale for one gold coin if 
that is her only role in the story. It’s your game, 
you know what’s important, but never forget 
that the people reading your design document 
will not know until you tell them. 

Environment of Each Level 
Describing the environment in each level is no 
easy task, but when done right is one of the 
most important tools available in making other 
people understand your vision. When you 
imagine your game you undoubtedly see the 
world around the action quite clearly in your 
head. It is your responsibility to explain all this 
in words (or pictures) so that someone reading 
your design document can picture roughly the 
same environment. 

There are two main distinctions in 
describing a game’s environment, and these 
are broken into foreground and background (or 
possibly even interactive and non-interactive). 
Some games follow this distinction quite 
literally, with the end result being typically a 
static background which sets the overall look 
of the level, and then the foreground elements 
which could include anything from floating 
platforms to banana trees depending on the 
game. You’ll have a chance to describe in 
greater detail the items in each level and their 
functionality, but for now you should mainly 
concern yourself with the appearance of the 
environments. 

This is also a key opportunity to use 
artwork. The process of obtaining artwork is 
not always easy. Assuming that you are not an 
amazing artist to begin with, probably the best 
thing to do is to team up with an artist who 
has a real sense of your vision. Don’t panic if 
you can’t find the right artist, however. There 
are still ways to illustrate your ideas. One way 
is to look for photographs or illustrations in 
magazines that come close to the kind of 
environment you’re thinking of. For example, if 
you’re planning some kind of deep jungle 
setting you could look in the latest issue of 


46 














ng | 



National Geographic or Travel & Leisure for an 
image that expresses the right kind of setting 
for your game. This method may not get you 
exactly the results you’re looking for, but it 
should at least get you in the right ballpark. 
Another easy way to illustrate a game’s 
environments is through the use of maps. 
While a 2D map may not express the look and 
feel of an environment, it does wonders for 
giving someone an idea of scope and of the 
physical relationships between different rooms 
or areas. 

Characters in Each Level 
In this section you will let the reader know 
about all the characters he or she may expect 
to encounter in a specific level, and there is is 
no specific limit as to how detailed you may 
choose to be. Depending on the genre, some 
designers go so far as to keep something 
fiction writers call a “character bible.” A 
character bible enables the writer to keep a 
detailed journal about the characters in his 
book (or game) in an effort to create a 
believable and consistent personality. 

However, keep in mind that while you’re free to 
keep such a journal for your own reference, 
your design document is not the traditional 
place for this kind of work. 

What you will want to express in this 
section is what characters will be appearing in 
the level and what they will be doing. This 
includes everything from attack moves to 
conversation dialogue. You will also want to be 
sure to explain how character’s actions will be 
affecting other characters and their 


environment. This is another opportunity to 
touch on the storyline, but again don’t go 
crazy. This is a place for specific examples of 
what your characters are doing in a specific 
situation within the level, not what happened 
to their grandmother’s dog Skippy when they 
were ten years old — that’s for the character 
bible. Finally, you’ll want to describe what 
these characters look like. This includes 
technical descriptions, such as “this enemy 
character will be 3D modeled with about 300 
Gouraud shaded polygons,” as well as more 
traditional descriptions of appearance. For 
example, “The enemy character Boo Boo is a 
Canadian Mounty gone insane. He still wears 
most of his Mounty uniform, except that now 
he also wears a pirate hat.” Note this is also 
another great opportunity to include artwork. 

Actions/Animations for Each Level 
Hopefully, by this time the person reading your 
design document will have some idea about 
the kinds of things your character can do. In 
this section, however, you’re going to have to 
be very specific about all the actions that 
he/she will be doing in the particular level 
you’re writing about. You’ll also have to 
describe the actions of enemy and ally 
characters. If, for example, you are describing 
a boss stage in a 3D action game, it’s not 
enough to say that the main character will 
jump and shoot the boss in the eye. To the 
reader who knows nothing about your ideas, 
this just doesn’t say much. If, however, you 
describe the boss character as a fully 
polygonal 30 foot tall gorilla with a powerful 


sweeping hand gesture which the main 
character will have to jump over at just the 
right time, then duck under the explosive 
wrecked cars and helicopters the gorilla hurls 
directly at the screen, then you’ve given the 
i reader a much more vivid picture of the action. 

Simply describing the character’s actions 
in generic terms like run, jump and shoot isn’t 
enough. This is your opportunity to describe 
the animation and artistic style of your 
characters. When it comes time to actually 
produce your game you will need a detailed 
list of required animations to give to the 
programmers and artists working on it. This 
will have to include every action that your 
character may have to do at any point. Hence, 
in this section it is extremely important that 
you not only list the actions your character will 
be performing, but also describe how they 
should look. Remember, greatness is in the 
details. For example, both Mario and Sonic 
jump in their respective games, and when it 
comes down to it, both characters’ jumps 
perform the same function, but how they each 
look while doing it makes such a profound 
difference it helps define the very character of 
the games. This is the place to convey this to 
the reader. 


Music for Each Level 

Creating and describing the music for your 
game is an important and challenging part of 



Describing the rich environment of a 
game such as Sony's Parappa the Rapper 
or Activision's I 76, speaks volumes to the 
character of the game Itself 


47 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 
















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng 



making a thorough design document. 

Naturally, this section should discuss the 
technical aspects of the music, such as the use 
of event-triggered music or Redbook Audio, all 
of which should be as thoroughly described as 
the animation. However, there are also a 
number of things that must be decided and 
thus explained about the quality of the music 
as well. For example, will the music be used as 
background ambiance or as an element 
designed to drive the game forward? The 
music in the original WipeOut, for example, 
was chosen specifically to elevate the energy 
level of the game, and went on to become a 
big part of the game’s allure. If your game was 

It’s important that you should work on 
your game in manageable sections 


equally dependent on music for its success, 
you will want to take the time to thoroughly 
describe exactly the kind of effect it should 
have on players. 

Sound Effects in Each Level 
Just as you have to carefully consider the 
music in each level, the sound effects you 
choose say a lot about the game you’re 
planning. If your game idea is to create a 
hyper-realistic adventure game, then you’re 
probably planning to use real-world sound 
samples. Therefore, if the level you’re planning 
takes place in someone’s office you might want 
to mention there will be a sound effect for a 
closing door, the opening of a desk drawer, the 
background sound of someone typing, a 


telephone ringing, and the gurgling of a water 
cooler. If, however, your game is less realistic, 
you may want to compare the sound effects in 
your game to those of a classic Warner Bros, 
cartoon. For example, “When the enemy 
characters are shot, they will shatter into many 
pieces and fall to the ground. An exaggerated 
glass shattering sound effect should be used 
to compliment the effect.” 

Items (Live Scenery) in Each Level 
Earlier you described the environment for a 
specific stage, now it’s time to describe what 
could be considered the “live” items in a 
specific level. For an item to be “live” it need 
be interactive in some way, and so the items 
described in this section are those which can 
be stood on, picked up, exploded, pushed, 
shot, pulled, examined or whatever else your 
character may be able to do. These are 
generally items that mean something to the 
progression of your game, and therefore need 
to be explained thoroughly for each level. 

This is also a good opportunity to roughly 
explain how each of these items will be 
created. For example are they 3D polygonal 
models or sprites? This will give a potential 
producer an idea from the very beginning 
what kind of talents he or she will need to put 
on the project. 

And Then It’s Time 
To Start All Over Again 

It’s important to remember that you should be 
working on your game in manageable 
sections. Thus everything you’ve just detailed 
for level one must be reconsidered for each 
successive level. Obviously, a focused design 
document will not waste time explaining the 
same thing over and over again, but if your 
character has a new move in level eight that 
he didn’t have in level one, it must be 
explained in the detail of level eight. If 
however, you’re character is doing essentially 
the same thing in level eight that he did in 
level four, you can simply reference the 
detailed description from level four. 

One last thing to consider in creating a 
design document is that the overall game must 
have a certain amount of cohesion. It’s 
probably not a good idea to spend months on 
a description of level one without ever 
considering how it all fits with what happens in 
level two. Therefore, most designers find it 
easier to apply levels of detail in waves, 
creating a broad stroke version of the 
document first, then piece by piece raising it to 
the level of detail they’re trying to achieve. 















ng | 


W ' ( 3 

Personalizing Your Design 

Document 




gH||l|| s we stated back at the beginning, 
BA unlike more mature entertainment 
industries, the game industry is still 
pretty liberal about its essential 
documentation. This means that your 
document need not follow exactly the format 
laid out by this story, or in any other guidelines 
set before you. In fact, it is highly doubtful that 
it will follow any example to the letter. 

As a game designer, you have the 
opportunity and the responsibility to decide 
what is important about your game and then 
highlight that aspect in your documentation. 
What you will probably find is that some 
elements of your game idea work very well 
with this or other descriptions of how to create 
a design document, while other elements may 
require totally original treatments. For 
example, you may find the need to employ a 
more traditional Hollywood approach in the 
use of storyboarding, or the fiction writing 
approach and first create a very detailed 
outline. Botti recalls, “When I was 13 and 
designing a game for my Apple II, my design 
document consisted of a map and a 
notebook.” In point of fact, that game idea 
went on to be sold and published. 

Whatever the case, your main objective in 
creating a design document or any other 
documentation for your game remains the 
same: to give someone else, be they a 
potential producer, artist, programmer or 
whoever, a clear idea of the game that’s 
floating around in your head. If this takes more 
artwork than words, do it. If it takes a slide 
show or a prototype computer program, get to 
work on them. 

The point is, the only way you’re going to 
get the help you need is through your ability to 
express your ideas to those who can help you 
get the job done. A thoughtful design 
document, whatever its form, can help you 
immensely in that quest. 


Getting your document into the 

Right Hands 


-1 reating a professional design 

; document is only step one in the long 
J and difficult process of actually 
getting a game produced in today’s 
competitive market. The next step is to get 
your document (be it a formal design 
document, design treatment, or anything in 
between) into the right hands. To begin with 
you should accept the fact that your chances of 
actually getting your game made, statistically 
speaking, are not that great. For one, there are 
legal reasons why many companies will not 
even look at your game idea no matter how 
much work you put into creating a professional 
document. Most of these reasons involve what 
could be described as the problem of 
“ownership of ideas.” From a company’s 
perspective, if it looks at a design document 
and rejects it, then later the company comes 
out with a game that bears any similarity to 
the rejected concept (even coincidentally), the 
company may open itself to a lawsuit. Thus, 
most companies have an iron-clad policy of 
returning game ideas unopened or at least 
unexamined. 

The situation is not hopeless, however. 

One way to get around this potential problem 
is to offer to sign a legal document waving 
your rights to take legal action against the 
company in question no matter what ideas 
they may use in the future. Of course, this 
does take away your right to legal action if the 
company actually does steal your ideas, but it 
could end up being your only viable option. 

Many companies do have active 
acquisition departments: the key is finding 
that key person who can get a project on the 


right person’s desk. This is why it is important 
to carefully research the companies you are 
sending your game ideas to. Be sure to pick a 
company with a good reputation and try to 
have some contact with someone at the 
company before sending them anything. (A 
good place to meet company employees, 
especially if you have no other inroads, is 
online. We know of scores of people who made 
crucial first employment contacts that way.) 

A much safer and more likely way to get 
your game made is to first get yourself 
employed by a software company. This could 
mean any number of things depending on your 
skills, but the truth of the matter is that having 
a job in the testing department of a game 
publisher already puts you in a much better 
position for having your game idea published 
by that company. Another important aspect of 
this approach is that it displays your 
willingness to work for the company to which 
you’re sending your game design. Basically, 
what you’re be saying to a company when 
you’re sending them your design is “I want to 
come make this game as an employee of your 
company.” There is still no guarantee that the 
company you want to make your game with is 
going to give you the chance, but if you’re 
willing to be flexible, you’re likely to find some 
kind of audience for your ideas. 


For further information on creating 
design documents and other game 
documentation see: 

The Ultimate Game Developer’s Sourcebook 
by Ben Sawyer and 
Inside Electronic Game Design by 
Arnie Katz & Laurie Yates 


49 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 



















tMSwHE MEDIEVAL CATHEDRAL OFTEN 
SERVED AS A CENTER FOR LEARNING. 

. THIS IS GOING TO BE A VERY 

RAINFUL LESSON. 

; ' ' •* ■ 

The Four Horsemitt of the Ajxxalypsc lurk in the shad¬ 
ows before you. And they are not alone. Eidolon, the last known 


Hell-spawned hordes. As the Necromancer, the Assassin, the 

> 

Crusader, or the Paladin, you must put an end to this ravenous 
onslaught. But first, you must defeat the Dark Generals. Each of them 
awaits your arrival separately in one of four demon-infested worlds; 



You will know them when you see them. They will be Death, 
Pestilence, Famine and War. Will jrou be the teacher? Or the student?" 


possess distinct spells, powers and weapons. 

With experience, gaii) levels, more 
hit point* and certain abilities that apply to 
. your specific character class, such as 
increased speed, fire power and jump distance. 


Lose yourself in lightning 
storms, blowing leaves, earthquakes, spraying 
fountains and pouring rain. 





Bludgeon your way through four demon-infested 
worlds — Medieval. Egyptian. 
Mesoamcrican and Roman. Smash stained glass 
windows, collapse structural 
beams, pulverize trees and shatter egos. ~ 













AcTiVisloH 


RAVCN 


oming 


oon on 


95 CD-ROM 







SHEARTFRBU& 



It’s one thing to take a bullet like a man but 
how does one take 3-foot long, razor sharp 
scissors? How will you avert decapitation 
and keep your entrails from spilling out over 
the kitchen floor? This will surely be your 
fate unless you can outwit Norway’s most 
lethal killer — Scissorman. You'll have to 


become a master of stealth and deception 
to avoid being cut to ribbons in this blood- 
soaked horror adventure. 



Five playable characters and ten different endings 
for super-extended replay value. 



Amazingly detailed, horrific graphics and 
special effects. 

Bone-chilling sound effects. 

So grab your copy of Clock Tower ", 
turn out the lights, and prey. 

41 * M . 
ir . 










Messiah PC Killwheel PlayStation FireTeam Online Prey PC Plane Crazy PC, Arcade Everquest Online 
Die by the Sword PC Monster Rancher PlayStation Earthworm jim 3D Nintendo 64 Dark Vengeance PC 




We preview the world 


□ eveloper Shiny has been known for its 
unique concepts — witness Earthworm 
Jim and MDK. However, Messiah takes the 
cake, in both concept and technology, it's 
literally unlike any game before (well, maybe 
Joust, but let the developers explain that), in 
fact, there's a number of interesting ideas 
floating around, from 3D Realms' Prey to 
Multitude's online FireTeam. Just keep reading. 



See the Next Generation Disc for more 
information when you see this symbol 


53 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 













































































Check for unresponsive 

Gently tap 8c ask , "Are 











ness 

you okay?" 


I 

I 





If they don't respond, check immediate area for 
Tomb Raider 2, Deathtrap Dungeon, Fighting Force 
or any other Eidos games. Then make off with 
whichever ones you can before the poor bastard 
comes to. 


INTERACTIVE 

You’ve been warned. 


www.eidosinteractive.com 






















Messiah 


Shiny Entertainment offers both the sublime 
and the ridiculous in its state-of-the-art 
successor to MDK 






ng alphas | 


he goal is to make a game that 
really ends the polygon wars 
once and for all," calmly states 
Dave Perry. And you get the feeling he 
means it. Having shuffled papers behind 
the big, black desk of Shiny 
Entertainment's presidential office for the 
last year or so, and having watched Nick 
Bruty and Bob Stephenson — the core of 
the MDK team — quit Shiny and start up 
their own development team, Perry is 


Format 

PC 

Publisher 

InterPlay 

Developer 

Shiny Entertainment 

Release Date 

Q1 1998 

Origin 

U.S. 





itching to get his hands dirty once more 
and to get back to the business of 
making games. Messiah is his chosen 
project and he intends it to be a 
blockbuster. Scheduled for completion in 
the spring of 1998 and destined for PC 
(plans for console versions are in the 
"maybe" stage at this time), Messiah is 
currently little more than a wacky 
concept and a thoroughly impressive 
technology demo. But from such small 
acorns mighty oaks often grow, especially 
when nurtured by golden boy Perry. Sure, 
perhaps both he and Shiny Entertainment 
get far too much press and are hyped to 
the moon, but — with Earthworm Jim and 
MDK — the sales figures and review 
scores seem to indicate that, so far at 
least, he has delivered on all that he has 
promised. So what does he have planned 
for the gaming public this time? 


"We're quite happy to admit that 
we've stolen the mechanic of Messiah 
from another game, and that game is 
Joust," confides Perry. He goes on to 
explain, "Your character will be able to fly, 
but not too well. So, like in Joust, you can 
only fly for a very short period of time. If 

Perry is itching to get his hands 
dirty once more 


you press jump and hold it he will glide, 
but if you keep tapping it he will fly a little 
— there will be a real feeling of weight." 
But, beyond this tactile gameplay 
element, any similarities between John 
Newcommer's 1982 arcade classic and 
Shiny's Messiah are thin, instead of a 
solitary, 2D platform-based arena, 


57 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 

























NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng alphas 




Messiah offers a lush 3D world, instead 
of jousting with opponents, Messiah 
invites players to possess the bodies of 
vanquished foes and lay waste with an 
arsenal of hi-tech (and medieval) 
weaponry. And instead of players taking 
the role of a knight riding atop an ostrich, 
Messiah's chief protagonist is a cherub 
— a chubby, waddling angel. 

So what's the game 
about? "The lead character, 
the kid, has the ability to 
possess other characters, 
so you're going to be able 
to play 20 different 
people in the game," 

Perry explains. "You 
can literally climb 
inside their body, 
take over that 
character, play as 


Characters are unbelievably detailed; models start at 580,000 polygons 
and scale down from there. Expect the game to have hefty RAM needs 


that character and pick up new weapons. 
You start off with no real weapons, but 
you're fast and you can fly — just." 

"The gameplay is based around 
puzzles in an action environment," offers 
Michael Saxs Persson, Messiah's lead 
programmer, explaining how the 
"possession" of enemies affects the play 
experience, "so you have to be very 
clever about which characters you 
choose to take over at different times." it 
sounds most bizarre. Certainly, the sight 
of a diaper-clad angel running around a 
hostile 3D world killing things is most 
disturbing. Perry agrees. "Sure, it's not by 
any means a 'nice' game," he concedes. 
"But it's not designed for young kids. It's 
an adult game, and an adult game is 
good for Shiny's portfolio of titles. We did 


These design sketches give a feel for 
the types of characters players will see 


"we've kind of solved the polygon 
problem once and for all" 


Earthworm Jim which was a kids' game, 
MDK which is dark but kinda funny — it 
straddled the gap — but Messiah is 
definitely more dark, and it will 
compliment the other games that we've 
done in the past." isn't Perry worried that 
"dark" has been done to death over the 
last couple of years? He smiles, "We're 
going to do 'dark' slightly differently..." 

As for the background story, Perry is 
reluctant to give too much away, "(in the 
game] it's foretold that the savior will 
arrive to save the world in 2000 years, 
but it turns out that this kid has arrived 
two years early," is pretty much all he will 
reveal at this point. Since the story isn't 
finalized yet (expect a much more 
elaborate story featuring the Seven Seals 
of the Apocalypse and the cherub — 
tentatively named "Bob" — needing to 



58 























0) ng alphas | 


thwart a plot by the Devil to unleash 
Armageddon early to gain an advantage 
over the forces of God), Perry's much 
happier talking about the technology 
behind Messiah and how, he believes, it 
stands head and shoulders above what 
Shiny's competitors are doing. 

"We've kind of solved the polygon 
problem once and for all," he brags. 
"People can bitch and fight about how 
many polygons per second they're 
pushing, but at the minute we're pushing 
around 500 to 1000 times more than 
Tomb Raider — in software. So the 
argument is over. My opinion is that we 
are two years ahead of everyone else. 
With the exception of 3Dfx, Messiah 
software even runs faster than most 3D 
hardware." That's a bold statement. So 
what's the trick? 

"The thing that makes the difference 
is that we've designed Messiah so it's 
truly scalable. At the CGDC [Computer 
Game Developers Conference] scalability 
was the big deal. Everyone was saying 
that it is clearly the next step because 
there's such a spread of processors out 
there — you've got one guy running on 
his 486 while there are other guys with 
Pentium 266s. Not many games can run 
well on both. But Messiah can work out 
the speed of your machine and then take 
out or add polygons accordingly, in real 
time, in this way, the frame rate will stay 
constant throughout." 




So Messiah will increase or decrease 
the number of polygons used in its 
models to accommodate whatever 
processing muscle the gameplayer's 
computer has." mdk used about 150 to 
300 polygons per model, which is kinda 
the industry norm," explains Perry. "When 
you hear people get all excited that 
usually means that they're up around 600 
polygons. But essentially, what we do 
with Messiah is start with 580,000 and 
scale back from there, depending upon 
your hardware." 

While this is great news for users of 
low-end (and high-end) machines, it 
doesn't explain why Messiah's models 
look so complex or vindicate Perry's claim 
to be two years ahead of the competition 
in terms of polygons per second. The 
magic, evidently, is in how Shiny scales 
Messiah's models up and down. "What 
most people don't realize is that polygons 
are only visible when a game character is 
standing still," Perry reveals. "If a 
character is moving quickly, then it tends 
to camouflage its specific make-up. And 
this trick of the eye is the key to what we 
are doing — Messiah's technology is a 
whole different way of thinking." 

Although reluctant to show his hand 
completely ("We're in the patent process 
at the moment, so I can't talk too much 
about it," he explains), Perry is willing to 
add a little more. "Every developer who 
went to the CGDC knows that 
tessellation, the breakdown of polygons 
— this scalability that l was talking about 
earlier — is the goal. And everyone will 
have rushed off and started work on this. 
But we've gone one step further, we've 
taken a step that wasn't even discussed 
at the CGDC, and this is real-time 




once the characters 
are created In 3D 
Studio max, they are 
brought Into a 
proprietary tool where 
muscle stresses are 
added to the skeletons 
with a "spray paint" 
like tool; this enables 
the incredibly smooth 
character animation 


59 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 





































NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng alphas 



deformation, the building up of polygons." 
And how does this apply to what 
Messiah's technology is doing? "We don't 
actually store models as polygons, and 
this makes the difference, if you store 
things broken down as polygons and 
then you rebuild them back up as 
polygons, it takes time, we store them as 
a shape and then create polygons at the 
last minute." 

All at Shiny seem confident 
this kind of shape-based engine is the 
way forward. Persson is quite vociferous 
on the subject. "All of the alternative 

"All of the alternative engines 
I've heard proposed are based on 
either stupidity or laziness" 



engines that I've heard proposed are 
based on either stupidity or laziness," he 
declares, "what they do is model a 

character based 


Most polygonal models have tearing problems in 
curved, jointed areas, like the buttocks (that's 
why so many female fighting game characters 
wear skirts). That's not the case in Messiah, and 
the characters are designed to show that off 


on 1000 
polygons — so 
they're restricted 
right away — 
and then they 
pre-calculate 
what polygons 
to lose 
according to 
how close the 
model's going to 
be on screen. So 
pretty much, 
they pre-store 
five models at 
five different 
dependencies — 



The characters move and bend with stunning smoothness — for a 
QuickTime movie demonstration, check out this month's NG Disc 


and have only five steps of closeness." 
Shiny's alternative is, Persson claims, 
considerably more efficient. "Messiah's 
initial models are made up of 580,000 
polygons, which I convert into shapes — 
not just triangles — and these shapes are 
then tessellated and deformed real-time 
in the engine. By changing our models up 
into shapes and then back down into 
polygons in real-time, there is no 
overhead. So if, at a point in the game, I 
choose to generate my character with 
just 30 polygons, l don't have to look 
through the 8000 other polygons that l 
just missed. And this is its real strength." 

The result is a practically limitless 
number of "steps of closeness" for 
Messiah's models, and — because the 
processor isn't spending time sorting 
through lists of which polygons to draw 
and which to leave out — a lot of extra 
processor time that can be devoted to 
making the models on screen look as 
detailed as possible. Because this is a 
fundamental technique and, in Perry's 
words, "a whole new way of skinning this 
cat," it can work on any system, be it 
console, standard PC, or a PC equipped 
with the latest 3D accelerator card. 

One of the ways in which Shiny is 
putting this freed-up processing power to 


60 























ng alphas | 



This level has no floor to speak of — players 
will need to find ledges for Bob to rest on 


movement to 
another. So, for 
example, you can 
move from a walk to 
a run without any 
kind of jerk. I've 
never actually seen 
this done before." 

in-game lighting 
effects also get a 
new technological 

boost. "We also have volumetric lightning 
which flood-fills areas," Perry explains, 

"so if you put your head into a lit area, 
just your head will be lit up." indeed, 
some of the earliest levels already have 
this feature implemented, and the results, 
while subtle, are amazing. 


good use is in 
blurring the 
transitions between 
the models' different 
sequences of 
animation. "This is 
real-time 

interpolation, and it's 
another thing you 
hear a lot about," 
says Perry. "But 
whereas a lot of 
people are talking 
the talk, we can 
demonstrate that 
we've actually got it 
working — you can 
lead from one 


But perhaps the most 
impressive feature of Messiah's in-game 
characters is the smoothness of their skin 
and the integrity of their physical make¬ 
up as they move. Using skeletal frames 


on which to apply flesh and skin, the 
Messiah team has been able to achieve 
an unprecedented degree of realism, and 
having mastered the technique, the team 
is not about to hide its light under a 
bushel. "Sure, we have a lot of fleshy- 
looking characters — because we can," 
laughs Persson. "We simply put flesh on 
our skeletal models, and there is little or 
no disruption in the skin." Once again, 
because this is implementing a new core 
technology — as opposed to the intricate 
fine-tuning of established methods — the 
creation of new characters and models in 
a short period of time is reasonably 
straightforward. 

"It's a fairly trivial task to implement 
a character," explains Persson, "and we 
can do it in a few hours. My system takes 




Most of the levels feature lots of perches from which a cherub could easily swoop down and possess a baddle 


61 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 






















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ns alphas 



a character and renders it, 3D Studio 
generates all the maps for it, I select the 
body parts, apply my skeleton once and 
then keep applying motions. Everything 
works from 3D Studio, so you just load in 
a project file that contains a hierarchy of 
motion, convert it, and it will work in the 
game." Messiah also handles 360° of 
texture mapping, so models look detailed 
when viewed from any angle, with not 
just the 'front' and 'back' sandwich of 
textures commonly used as a shortcut. 
"We can also add traditional polygons to 

The team has achieved an 
unprecedented degree of realism 


these models, if they are suited to the 
job," adds Perry. "Although the cherub is 
made up of shapes and then texture- 
mapped, his wings, for example, are 
easily made up of just a few texture- 
mapped polygons." 

Additionally, all of the characters 
have been motion captured to provide 
the best balance between realism and 
versatility. For the central character the 
team motion-captured a Little Person, 
whose past credits include playing 
Donald Duck at Disneyland. Why not 
simply sample a child's movements for 
Messiah's lead role? "Because essentially 
it's a baby," Perry explains, "it's a cherub 
— it wears a diaper — and it moves in 
the way babies do. And, unfortunately, we 
couldn't really motion capture a baby." 

In fitting with this angelic theme, 


bows and arrows take their inevitable 
place in the arsenal of weaponry. But 
even here, Shiny is keen to point out they 
have their own twist. "You're going to 
have weapons that stick into people," 
explains Perry, with grim relish. "Bows 
and arrows, or harpoons, will actually 
stick into the body of your enemy and he 
or she will continue to run around, 
weakened, like a bull facing a Matador." 

Perry is obviously excited 

about Messiah's prospects, even at this 
early stage, and in typical fashion he 
makes no bones about it. "What I really 
love is seeing things that no one's quite 
seen before," he reveals, "so what we're 
here today to show is that the Messiah 
technology exists and that we're now 
making a game from it." 

Certainly, all the early signs are 
promising, and the team seems as 
committed to its success as it could be. 
"We've put together a whole new team of 
guys," Perry explains, "and they are so 
dedicated to putting this together that 
they are working non-stop already. They 
are so passionate, they did the whole 
game engine in around two months." 

Perry himself, however, is waiting 
until the last minute to add his main 
contribution to the project. "Once the 
guys say 'the code's ready' my job is to 
tweak all the values on the run, jump, and 
other action fields until the feel is 
perfect," he explains. Judging by his track 
record, and the suitably impressive 
technology demonstrations we've seen 
so far, we have no reason to 
assume that he'll fail. 




Motion capture isn't new, but Shiny's method of replaying motions 
onscreen (with no clipping issues) may be novel enough for a patent 


62 





















As your dog sits glaring at you while 
you’re absorbed in the latest Only for 
Pentiunf/Only for Windows® 95 
release from Epic MegaGames, you 
assume he’s just sick of waiting for 
his evening walk. 

But perhaps a deeper, darker 
emotion lurks behind those pen¬ 
etrating canine eyes,,, jealousy! 

After all, chasing a squirrel up 
a tree is good for kicks, but it 
hardly compares to a fight to the 
death with 800 pounds of 
bazooka-toting alien muscle. 

Unfortunately, it’s extremely 

J difficult to manipulate a joystick when 
you don’t have opposable thumbs. 

Still, you can’t blame a dog for 
dreaming... 







NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ns alphas 


Computer Artworks 



William Latham's organic algorithms have heretofore mainly 

- l ' w : n screensavers. Now he's altered his 

gameplay may be changed forever 


in the game, the player controls four Geno Hunters—weird hybrids of insect, reptile, 
and mechanoid — on various missions of destruction 


I he screensaver has never been a 
particularly respected art form in 
the world of computer 
entertainment - not least because modern 
monitors have now rendered it pointless. 
However, last year burgeoning software 
company Computer Artworks turned its 
acclaimed Organic Art package into a saver 
and then made the program available on 
Microsoft's website. Within ten days, 
100,000 downloads had been made and it 
suddenly seemed as though no PC was 
complete without a 3D virtual sculpture 
swirling around the screen when the 
computer was not in use. 

The reason for the fuss was simple: 
Organic Art was a beautiful and inspiring 
exploration of computer artist William 
Latham's theories on evolutionary art and 
artificial life - now the driving forces 
behind everything Computer Artworks 
does. But this was just the tip of the 
company's ambitions Latham, together 
with game designer and programmer Mark 


When weapons are not in use, they merge back 
into the Geno Hunter's exoskeleton 


Atkinson and 
a very small 
team of 
committed 
individuals, is 
now working 
on a number 

of projects, including Organic Art 2, a logo 
for new cinematic sound system DTS, 
and, most interestingly, a PC game 
called Evolva. 

It is the latter which the company 
seems to be most excited about. Latham 
himself has admitted that "Organic Art was 
only a stepping stone towards making 
Evolva." it is also that game, still in the early 
stages of development, which drew most 
of Next Generation's attention on a 
recent trip to Computer Artworks' cramped 
offices in Victoria, London. 

The game itself sounds 
straightforward. An alien race is spreading 
throughout the galaxy like a virus, landing 


64 

















ng alphas | 


on planets, using up their resources and 
then destroying them, sending millions of 
alien eggs into space ready to land on new 
worlds. The player controls a group of four 
biomechanical droids, known as Geno 
Hunters, which land on one such infected 
planet and have to carry out 12 to 15 
missions (the final number hasn't yet been 
decided) to destroy the alien race and save 
the planet. 

At a very basic level, then, 
Evolva is a kind of third person strategy 
shoot 'em up, combining elements of 
Quake (violence), Command & Conquer 
(military strategy) and Tomb Raider (puzzle 
solving). However, beneath this rather 
orthodox exterior, almost every facet of the 
game is driven by Latham's 
organic/evolutionary ideas - not for the 
sake if it, insists Atkinson, but because they 
add to the gameplay. 

Perhaps the most important use of 
the evolution concept is in the Geno 
Hunters' capacity for mutation. This 
process is probably best described by 
Atkinson, who refined Latham's original 
ideas into a viable game system. "The main 
form of power-up is the Mutator," he 
explains "By killing things you accumulate 
mutation points, and once you reach the 
threshold you get to use the Mutator 



[which appears as a separate options 
screen). This gives you a selection of 
mutant variants on your Geno Hunter, each 
powering up the creature in a different way 
— faster, stronger, smarter, extra weapon, 
bigger weapon, modified body part, extra 
body part, etc, or, if you're lucky, a new 
ability. You choose the variant you like best 
and your GH morphs into this form." 

in other words, instead of picking up 
rigidly defined power-ups, the player 
acquires genetic traits which give his 
Hunter different abilities and cause it to 
morph into new shapes, in addition, the 
player can use the Mutator screen to 
merge the genetic attributes of two Geno 
Hunters (ie to mate them) in order to come 
up with "babies" which combine the 
separate strengths of their "parents", in 
this way, users can mold Hunters to 
comply with their own ideas of what will 
make a successful being - fast and 
athletic, or slow and loaded down with 
weapons. The chance of two players 
mutating their Geno Hunters into identical 
beings is apparently 1,000,000,000 to one, 
so each group will be unique. Computer 
Artworks is even considering making it 
possible for players to swap Hunters over 
the Net. 

And that's not all According to 
Atkinson, players can also gain new special 
abilities (fire-breathing, polymorph, psychic, 
body charge, web, and so on) by killing a 
boss alien which possesses the ability the 
player seeks. Once dead, the boss drops 
the gene and the Hunter picking it up 
immediately acquires that new ability. It 
then becomes part of the player's 
collective gene pool, which means that it 
will have an increased chance of appearing 
in all Geno Hunter Mutator sessions from 
then on. 

Given this diversity, it is difficult to 
describe what the Geno Hunters actually 
look like, although they're probably most 
accurately described as "biomechanical 



NEXT GENERATION September 1997 











66 


insects." Next Generation saw a number 
of mutated GHs at Computer Artworks, all 
of which looked amazingly intricate and 
smoothly animated. Like the Hunters, the 
baddies can also mutate themselves, but 
they come in basic types such as soldiers, 
scouts, builders, etc. it will be up to the 
player to find out what enemy beings 
(again, "biomechanical insect" is the most 
appropriate description) do what, and 
which pose the biggest threat. All, 
however, are highly intelligent. As Latham 
points out, "The aliens that you will be up 
against are really "living", driven by Al and 
ALife algorithms. They are seriously 
dangerous opponents, as they are 
unpredictable like predators in the real 
world." This should add an extra challenge 
to players used to predictable enemy 
behavior... 

As for the 
missions, the 
objectives vary from 
taking out key enemies 
to infiltrating whole 
hives, and all make 
effective use of the 
fully 3D landscape (so 
players will often have 
to work out whether 
attack would be better 
from above or below). 
On top of this, they 
require a variety of 
tactics by combining 
puzzles with 
straightforward 
shooting. The problem 
of controlling four 
Hunters at once is 
remedied by means of 
three camera views at 
the base of the screen, 
enabling the player to 


8*f 


V* 


The art team has spent hundreds of hours 
mapping out the Geno Hunters' mutations 


control one Hunter while at the same time 
keeping an eye on what the others are up 
to. This not only allows all four to be 
protected simultaneously but makes it 
relatively easy to formulate deployment 
strategies. 

Visually, the game is truly 
breathtaking. Each mission takes 
advantage of a different landscape style, so 
the player gets to see jungles, ice plains, 
deserts, etc - all lavishly detailed and 
brashly colored in hi-res. The game will also 
be supporting 3D accelerator cards, so a 
sustained frame rate of 30 fps is expected. 

Most interestingly though, 
all of the weird landscape features are 
designed with Latham's Organic Art at their 
core, which that means nothing is quite as 
rigid at it seems and many aspects of the 
surroundings are open to mutation. 
Explorable tunnels, for example, open up 
out of nowhere, and seemingly harmless 
plants transmute into deadly enemies as 
the player passes. It is as if every aspect of 
the game is alive - a refreshing move away 
from the static prettiness offered by most 
game scenery. 

Computer Artworks is, if not unique, 
certainly one of the most innovative 
companies working in software 
development today. Despite the familiar 
gameplay themes, there's a wealth of ideas 
here, and, for a change, a slightly different 
range of influences than the last big beat- 
'em up or first-person shoot-'em up. if 
Evolva is a success, there is a chance it 
could convince publishers to allow a 
greater element of individuality into games. 
Latham, however, remains philosophical 
about his chances. "This could either be an 
enormous success or a gigantic failure," he 
states matter of factly. 



















Operation Market Garden Casualties 

16,822 troops, 97 tanks, 118 planes 


S/r Bernard Law Mtntycrr&ry, Co/trtandcr-iH-Chief 
. . Of*rtti0rt Market S-arxfc* 


©1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. 


Could do 
<\n y 
beitec\ 


Change history this fall 


www.microsoft.com/games/closecombat 


CloseCombat 





























NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng alphas 


Prey 



Format 

PC CD-ROM 

Publisher 

GT Interactive 

Developer 

3D Realms 

Release Date 

June 1998 

Origin 

U.S. 




I ot content with designing one 
of the finest first-person action 
games ever, the Duke Nukem 
3D designers at 3D Realms are preparing 
to set the gaming world on its collective 
ear again with a new first-person, 3D 


The Portal engine takes a new 
approach to spatial relationships 



action game, Prey. Although currently 
set for a mid-1998 release, when asked 
when the title will be completed, project 
leader Paul Shuytema prefers to echo 
Charlton Heston's Michelangelo in 
The Agony and the Ecstasy. "When 
it's finished." 

Prey uses a new 3D engine, called 
Portal, which takes a new approach to 
spatial relationships. As Shuytema 
explains, "With the Quake- and Unreal- 
type engines, in order to speed up the 
way the processor computes geometry, 
they pre-compute the possible visibilities 


The designers of Duke Nukem 3D break the 
laws of physics with their latest engine, and 
push the first-person game onto new ground 



in a level. Now that's a very efficient 
way to enhance speed, but the problem 
is you're stuck with non-dynamic 
geometry. We thought there had to be a 
better way." 

That "better way" is based on a 
concept called Portals, instead of 
modeling a structure as a series of solid 
walls which form rooms and corridors, 
the Portal engine breaks up each area 
into a discrete, arbitrary room, then links 
the rooms through portals, which can be 
doors, windows, or other openings, 
imagine that each room is a Web page, 
with each link being a door to another 
room. Like a web page, each link can 
lead anywhere, not just to the next page. 
Shuytema continues, "The one thing 
that's cool with our approach is that it 
allows us to say 'to hell with Euclidean 
geometry.' I mean, now we can play with 


70 


























ng alphas | 




3D Realms' new Portal engine enables the designers to free themselves 
from Euclidean geometry, arranging rooms in totally arbitrary ways 


link room geometries on the fly. This has 
some pretty spectacular gameplay 
implications — plus it looks cool as hell." 

The player's character is one Talon 
Brave, a Native American who is taken 
aboard Trocara, a huge, ring-like, artificial 
world larger than the Earth. "We've been 
doing a lot of research on Plains Indian 
rituals, religion, and philosophy that are 
going to be central to what goes on in 
the game," Shuytema insists. Trocara is 
inhabited by three distinct 
species (plus a fourth, 
known as the Keepers, 
who are being kept under 


Prey will require a 3D 
accelerator, creating a 
fine sense of space 


things there's no possible way you could 
do in real life — unless you had heinous 
amounts of drugs, and then you probably 
couldn't remember it afterwards!" 

The result is oddly reminiscent of a 
3D version of one of gaming's early text 
adventures, in which moving north to the 
next room, then turning around and 
exiting to the south, did not necessarily 
put the player back in the same room. 
One demo shown to Next Generation 
let the player enter a room, turn left and 
exit the room, but then wind up back 
where he started. One could actually 
peek through the exit of the second 
room and see oneself. Disconcerting to 
say the least, but the possible 
repercussions for gameplay are obvious. 

Yet the team has taken the idea one 
step further. "We didn't invent Portal 
technology," Shuytema 
explains, "but the one or 
two other titles I know of 
that are trying to use it 
have the limitation that a 
portal must exist on the 
edge of a room — on a 
wall or a floor. Our engine 
programmer, William 
Scarborough, has come 
up with a way so that 
portals can be arbitrarily 
placed. They can be free- 
floating if you want, and 
also you can dynamically 
create portals, so we can 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 





















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng alphas 




While these screens may give the impression of 
another dungeon crawl. Prey will have outside areas 


tight wraps). The aliens' world thus 
affords a great deal of variety within 
each species' area, plus outdoor areas in 
between. Talon will also be able to 
commandeer a shuttle to fly from area to 
area through space. 

Prey is one of the first games Next 
Generation has learned of that will 
require a 3D accelerator card (others 
include Ultima IX, Redllne, Out of the 
void, and Microsoft's Baseball). This 
enables the designers to work with 16-bit 
textures and lighting, and also takes 
some of the "grunt work" of rendering off 
the CPU and frees it for other uses. The 
Al is modeled on finite state system Al, 
"Which isn't exactly rocket science," 
Shuytema admits. Still, he continues, "in 
Doom, for example, you have two only 
states, idle and Attack. But by using an 
accelerator and freeing the CPU, we can 
play around with a lot of variations of 
states, like Hunt, Hide, and Snipe, and 
also play around with the different 
triggers caused by both the player and 
the environment." 

Many first-person design houses, 3D 
Realms and Id among them, have seen a 
fair amount of upheaval over the last 
year, with many programmers and artists 


Prey also makes use of a new lighting engine, which filters and blends 
colored light in dramatic ways 


switching companies, or leaving and 
joining to form new ones. The resulting 
competition in the genre is daunting, but 
Shuytema thinks differently. "Actually, it's 
kind of invigorating. Because there is so 
much competition we can't just sit on 
our butts and produce formulaic stuff. 
We're all fighting basically for the same 
market share, and in order to get that we 
have to deliver an insanely superior 
product, and I think that just serves the 
players — they're going to get tons of 
great games. And for us as gameplayers, 
we're excited too. I can't wait to play 
Unreal, Quake ll looks gorgeous, l want to 
see where Daikatana is going — I mean, 
those are going to be fun, fun games." 

He concludes, "l think this genre is in an 
evolutionary state, and people are really 
experimenting now with new and 
different ways to deliver the play 
experience. I think it's exciting." UL §l 


72 














ITIeET IlAniiRA. 

She'll break 

YOUR HEART. 

Crush your bohes. 
Kjckyou inTo 

ALAVAPiT. 
THEn she'll SI1EER 

ATYOURWEAPOn. 


(AnD she's onE of the nicE onES.) 


Its Mace - The Dark Age. The most graphically stunning 3D fighting game to 
ever come home. In fact, Next Generation says,"Mace is well on its way to being 
the best 3-D fighting game for Nintendo 64 “. There are 10 death-seeking 
adversaries, two devilishly difficult bosses and seven hidden characters. Each one 
with a deadly weapon or two and so many moves and combos that you'll need a 
high pain threshold just to watch. A word to the wise! if you re getting your face 
kicked in, we suggest you hit the 3-D Dodge Button - it might just save your butt. 
Not to mention your life. 


EVERYTHinG'S a WEAPOa 


Cft> MIDWAY 


* Age™©1997 Atari Games Corp. All rights 
is a registered trademark of Midway Gameslnc. 
Age and all character names are trademarks of 
Distributed by Midway Home Entertainment Inc. 
itendo. Nintendo 64 and the 3-D “N" logo are 
intendo of America Inc. ©1997 Nintendo of 
Station and the PlayStation logos are trademarks 
r Entertainment Inc. 
















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ns alphas 



Psybadek 



Psybadek combines the tricks-orlented style of 
skateboarding with platform gaming elements 


From the team that redefined racing games 
for the 32-bit era comes a new kind of 
platform game. Can Psybadek make a similar 
impact this late in the game? 



I he original WipeOut is nearly 
entirely responsible for the 
rebirth of Psygnosis in the 32-bit 
age, and the team behind that 
remarkable game is now set to show us 
something new. "If you wanted to nail it 
to a genre, Psybadek is a 
platform/adventure game," suggests 


The game differs from Wipeout in 
its wide-open environment 



Morgan O'Rahilly, executive 
producer on the project. It's 
important to note, however, 
that no one on the Psybadek 
team is anxious for the new 
project to fit neatly into an 
established genre, and upon 
seeing the game it's clear that 
this will not be a problem. At 
first glance the game bears no 
particular resemblance to the 
WipeOut series, but it does 
showcase a few of the 
elements that made the 
team's other series so great, 
including a fluid sense of 
movement and an obvious 
attention to style. Probably 
the most obvious connection 
is the use of hovercrafts. in 


Format 

PlayStation 

Publisher 

Psygnosis 

Developer 

Psygnosis 

Release Date 

First Quarter 1998 

Origin 

Europe 


Psybadek the characters ride around on 
skateboard-like platforms, but without the 
limitations created by direct contact with 
the ground. "It probably comes from 
some horrible childhood obsession with 
being stuck to the floor," admits Nick 
Burcombe, lead designer on the project. 

Where the game differs from 
WipeOut, however, is in its wide-open 
environment, in which the player can 
move about freely. An important part of 
the original design, in fact, was to enable 
the player to simply have fun in the 
environment without any particular 
sense of urgency about getting to the 
next level. "The most rewarding games to 
play are the ones which take a while to 
get the hang of the controls," suggests 
Burcombe, and Psybadek is intended to 
have this quality, it's in learning to control 
the hoverdek that the player will 
eventually find his way through the 
platform style levels while battling 
enemies and collecting power-ups. it's 
also through mastering the controls that 
the player will learn a host of new 
skateboard-style tricks which can be 


74 































ng alphas | 



Though not a racing game, Psybadek will feature the fast, fluid motion often associated with the genre 


used for fun or to achieve certain goals 
in the game. 

Music has played an essential role in 
Psygnosis's recent history, especially 
when considering the outstanding 
soundtracks of Wipeout and Wipeout XL. 
in Psybadek, the team has taken this 
aspect into the next level by creating an 
interactive model by which the player 
maintains some control over the music 
while playing. Depending on the situation 
a player gets involved in, the music will 
seamlessly change to reflect the action of 
the game. According to O'Rahilly, "We set 
new precedents with Wipeout. Here 
we're going another step so that when 
you're playing the game you're constantly 
in the mix." 



Another aspect that sets Psybadek 
apart from the 32-bit era in general is the 
look of the game. "The graphical style is 


"The graphical style is absolutely 
perfect for the game" 



absolutely perfect for the game," says 
Burcombe. Scaled down in detail and 
possibly even sophistication from 
Wipeout, Psybadek maintains a clean and 
bold look throughout. And it's against this 
unobtrusive backdrop that the characters' 
stylish designs are made to stand out and 
announce their hip and contemporary 
attitudes, in doing so, the game grants 
itself a certain amount of distinction from 
other platform/adventure games such as 
Mario and Crash, wherein the characters 
seem somehow removed from the real 
world. "We wanted to go for a Manga- 
style cute and cool character," suggests 
O'Rahilly. Psybadek also features a larger 
group of characters than most games 
within the genre, and in doing so the 
game takes on almost an rpg feel. 
According to Burcombe, "l love the Marios 
and Yoshis and the other mascot games, 
but I wanted to create a bit more 
empathy with a 


characters. 

"When l 
first set out to 
do wipeout it 
was a blend of 
games that l was 
playing at the time," says 
Burcombe. And so what does 
Psybadek say about the 
games Nick has been playing 
lately? it's hard to say for sure, but 
it's possible that he's been seeing things 
in them that the rest of us have r - v _^ 
been missing. |Jl°] 


The enemy characters 
maintain the overall 
cutesy look 


75 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


















Best Hardware. Best Software. 


Dominate the 3D universe with Voodoo acceleration. 3Dfx Interactive 
delivers the fastest-amazingly fluid 3D ever. The eye-searing graphics and 
killer special effects in your game arsenal will now run at blazing speed. 


Combining exceptional software development with 
awesome Voodoo acceleration for an unmatchable, 

jaw-dropping experience: 


“Reigning Champion” - boot /July 1997 

Boards packing Voodoo: Diamond Monster 3D, Guillemot Gamer 3D, 
Hercules Stingray 128/3D, Intergraph Intense 3D Voodoo, Orchid 
Righteous 3D, RealVision Flash 3D, Techworks Power3D and more. 

Hardware Achievement of the Year - Computer Gaming World 
1997 Premier Awards “For overall no-holds-barred blistering 3D 
performance...- Diamond’s Monster 3D and Orchid’s Righteous 3D.” 


Electronic Arts, Activision, Sierra On Line, Interplay Productions, 

GT Interactive, Eidos Interactive, Psygnosis, Acclaim Entertainment, 
Lucas Arts, Microsoft Games, Virgin Interactive Entertainment, 
Microprose, Sega Entertainment, SegaSoft, Interactive Magic, 
Westwood Studios, Playmates Interactive Entertainment, Hasbro 
Interactive, MGM Interactive, Midway Games, Atari Games, UbiSoft, 
Gremlin Interactive, Bethesda Softworks, Criterion Studios, Mindscape, 
Accolade, Crystal Dynamics, Fox Interactive, Red Storm and more. 


Look for the 3Dfx Interactive logo and see for yourself. 


Copyright © 1997 3Dfx Interactive, Inc. The 3Dfx Interactive logo and Voodoo Graphics are trademarks of 3Dfx Interactive, Inc. Images courtesy of Eidos, Activision, and id software, Lucas Arts, Interplay Productions, Epic 
software. Starfleet Academy images are trademarks of Interplay Productions © 1997 Interplay Productions. MotoRacer and Longbow 2 images are trademarks of Electronic Arts © 1997 Electronic Arts. G-Police images are 
Interactive. Turok images are trademarks of Acclaim Entertainment © 1997 Acclaim Entertainment. Heavy Gear™ © 1997 Dream Pod 9, Inc. and Target Games, AB. Based on the Heavy Gear™ Universe created and owned by 










» 




MegaGames, Psygnosis, Electronic Arts, Fox Interactive, and Acclaim Entertainment. Tomb Raider, Lara Croft and her likeness are trademarks of © 1997 Eidos. Quake 2 images are trademarks of id software © 1997 id 
trademarks of Psygnosis © 1997 Psygnosis. Jedi Knight: Dark Forces images are trademarks of Lucas Arts Entertainment © 1997 Lucas Arts Entertainment. Croc images are trademarks of Fox Interactive © 1997 Fox 
Dream Pod 9, Inc. Activision is a registered trademark of Activision Inc. © 1997 Activision. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are the properties of their respective owners, www.3dfx.com 


Get 


Voodoo. 







NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ns alphas 



FireTeam 


□ hese days, online game projects 
are cropping up at a frightening 
rate, even though exactly what 
the "online" experience is, or should be, 
hasn't yet become clear. Some, however, 
have more interesting ideas than others; 
one of the companies at the forefront of 
these pioneers, feeling its way through the 
still untested World Wide waters, is 
Multitude. Co-founded a scant year ago by 

The designers have boasted 
about "just in time" content 



Ned Lerner ( Chuck Yeager's Advanced 
Flight Trainer, Ultima Underworld) and Art 
Min (System Shock, Terra Nova), Multitude 
should have its online answer, FireTeam, 
up and running by the holidays. 

FireTeam is a multiplayer, 2D, 
isometric action game, and as the title 
implies, the emphasis is on squad-level 
combat and team dynamics The engine is 
a deliberate attempt to adapt the overall 
dynamics of Microprose's X-COM, perhaps 
the finest squad-level combat system ever 
created, for a real-time environment. "Why 
did we go 2D?" Min asks, then answers his 
own question, "Well, for one thing, it's a lot 
faster. I don't think anybody can go online, 
at 800x600,16-bit color, and go this fast. 
Also, l think people want to see humans 
With polygons right now, you couldn't get 
50 of those little guys running around the 
screen. So we decided to go with quality 
of appearance. We want people to go, 
'Wow! That's the best-looking online game 
I've ever seen!'" 

At the same time, the designers at 
Multitude have made it their mission to 
keep gameplay simple, yet open-ended 
and adaptable, with individual 
engagements lasting just long enough to 
be involving, without leaving players 
feeling as if they've seen it all. Perhaps the 
most interesting aspect of FireTeam, 
however (other than the impressively low 
latency), is the addition of Multitude's 
patented voice technology, which allows 
squad members to communicate with 
each other in real time over the Net 
without requiring a voice modem — voice- 


While online gaming still has many issues that 
need addressing, one company seems to have 
nailed an awful lot of them at once 



The only trouble with this picture is that it can't show the players 
talking to each other in real time using Multitude's voice technology 


Format 

Online 

Publisher 

Multitude 

Developer 

Multitude 

Release Date 

Winter 1997 

Origin 

U.S. 


activated and "hands free." The ability to 
shout orders and information at each 
other may seem like a small thing, but it 
adds tremendously to the immersiveness 
of the experience, and drives home the 
point that these are real people the player 
is interacting with. When FireTeam 
becomes available at retail later this year, 
Multitude plans to bundle the disc with an 
earphone and mike headset. 

This sense of teamwork is the focus 
of not only the game itself, but Multitude's 
overall approach to the FireTeam site. "We 
looked at Heat's little spec about their 
lobby, and community, and having 
individual web pages, and we were like, 
'Hey! Did they read our design 
document?'" Min jokes. "We believe the 
whole experience is very important. Say 
you've gone home, you think, 'Well, let me 
log on and see if any of my friends are 
around.' You might not even play a game, 


78 






























ng alphas 



but you'll hang out, chat, check mail, it's 
really about more than just a ten or twenty 
minute game, and we want to facilitate 
that as much as possible." 

Min continues, "Most importantly, 
we'll have persistent teams Sure, you can 
jump on anytime and join a squad, but 
where's the bond? So we're going to have 
— well, we don't want to call them guilds, 
because that sounds too much like 
fantasy-based stuff, but each persistent 
squad will have custom web pages we're 
going to sponsor, and there will be 
privileges for joining one. We want to 
encourage people to join together, 
because that's the cool part of being on 
the system, that sense of community, 
knowing that when you log on you've got 
four or five friends you can depend on." 

And unlike a number of persistent 
online entities, the FireTeam engine is 
open-ended enough to be adaptable to 
new scenarios at any time. The designers 
have boasted about their "just in time" 
content, and it's not idle talk. Their level 
editor, which will be available to the public, 



allows the creation of new engagement 
areas in two weeks or less. "Think about 
the Peruvian hostage situation, or the L.A. 
bank robbery," Min elaborates. "We can 
put the L.A. bank robbery scenario up for 
two months, then take it down. There's 
always new content. One of the things l 
see happening is having themes The 
current theme we're working on is 
'Hollywood Action,' but think about having 
a superhero theme, or a gothic theme, or 
a fantasy theme. And you can choose 
what you want. You know, 'Today I want 
fantasy,' so you go to the game with 
swords and dragons." 

With its commitment to fast-paced 
gameplay, constantly fresh content, and 
building a true online community. 

Multitude could very well have hit on the 
right formula for worldwide, multiplayer 
gaming. Min concludes, "We're expecting 
small games, but a r~^~n 

big community." Ub£< 



For basic squad combat, players can choose from several different 
kinds of troops, from heavily armed chain gunners to light scouts 


79 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 
















As a cacIet you have m chance to traIn at the Acacjemy. 

* ■ * i 4 * # * * « « 1 

As a piioT you hAVE tIhe chance to ItattIe IiostHe e^emIes. 

As a CApTAiN you hAVE ik cItance to ESTAblish an aIKance \ViTh 

* I » 

■ * i * , I 

j\liENS you doiN T REAlly TRUST iN ORdER TO SAVE tIhe UNiVERSE. 

I , i * S + . I J 4 -s * 

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Obviously, This is not a qame of cItance. 


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SERiES of COVERT NliSSiONS TO dEfEAT TIhE ENEV1V. EVERYThiNq y6u do, EVERy ENEViy \OL “kill 

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OR lET GET AUAK EVERY dECisiON VOU MaI<E will hAVE AN EffECT ON tItE E\ ER'Ch ANCiiNCi ploT. 

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For PC CD-ROM. AvAihblE Iate^eptemBer. To piRckASE Forcer] AIIIance \isiT voir IocaI scTtware 
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Consequence of Rau - As you progress Irom the rank of Caoet to 
CApTAix, you'll qo fRO\i TAkiisq ORdERS to qivi\q tIhem. ThE power & tIte 
REspoNsibifiTV of coMMA\di\q a\ enure Heet of ships will bE youRS. 


Consequence of AcTioN - It s not jusT if you wi\ or Iose, or even 
how you pUy tIte qaaie. EvERVThi\q you do dETERMi\ES how Thu qame is 
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NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng alphas 


Daikatana 

Can one of the minds behind Doom and 
Quake take the first-person shooter genre 
forward with story alone? 


While the game makes few leaps technologically, the environments 
are quite vibrant and varied 




I hen John Romero (interviewed 
in NG 30) left id last year and 
founded ion Storm with Tom 
Hall and Todd Porter, few expected the 
company to offer such a wide range of 
projects. There is a real-time strategy title 
in the works (Porter's Doppeiganger), a 
3D RPG (Hall's Anachronox), and perhaps 
most impressive (and least surprising), 
Romero's first-person shoot-em-up/RPG, 
Daikatana. 


The game brings story and plot to 
a brain-dead genre 


Daikatana is an ambitious project, 
not from a technology point of view (it 
uses the Quake engine), but because 
Romero is attempting to take the genre 
forward not by using technology, as he 
did with the leap from Wolfenstein to 
Doom and then to Quake, but by, for the 
first time ever, inserting a serious amount 
of story and plot into what has previously 
been a relatively brain-dead genre. 

The story is naturally more 
developed than that of any other game 
in the genre. Players control a Japanese 


Format 

PC CD-ROM 

Publisher 

Eidos 

Developer 

Ion Storm 

Release Date 

November 1997 

Origin 

U.S. 


history expert, Hiro Miyamoto, who must 
travel through the four time periods with 
two companions, Superfly Johnson and 
Mikiko Ibihara. Their mission is to track 
down an evil scientist who has stolen not 
only a time travel-enabling sword, but 
also the cure for AIDS. Some plot 
advancement occurs in the 
expected fmv 
cut-scenes, 
but the bulk of 
the story 
develops 
through 
conversation 
with the other 
two characters. 

Communication 
between party 
members will use 
digitized speech, c 
first for the genre. 



Romero has been moving 
creations like this into 
his games for years now 


82 
























ng alphas | 



Breaking the game into 

distinct time periods is by no means a 
new idea for the genre (it was first done 
in Ultima underworld //, and most 
recently in Hexen II), but never before 
has it been injected with so much life. 

The game begins in A.D. 2455, the 
main character's time, and continues back 
through 2030 B.C. At that point, the player 
uses the sword to travel forward in time 
to A.D. 2030, but only makes it to A.D. 560. 



The game concludes in A.D. 2030. The 
environments represented in these 
periods are very convincing and realistic; 
snow gently falls in the dark ages, while 

Everything about Romero's latest 
project improves upon his last 


the swamp in 2455 bubbles noisily. 

Although the game's emphasis is on 
story, not technology, everything about 
the project, from the multiple color 
palettes to the increased polygon count 
on the enemies, improves on Quake. All 
objects animate at twice the frame rate 
of Quake, and there are over 30 original 
music tracks in the game, each 
appropriate to the time period. The 
biggest step forward, though, is the 
addition of RPG-like attributes, which 
increase during play and affect 
movement, damage, and so on. 

Doom and Quake are tough acts to 
follow, and Romero has a lot to live up to. 
Does the future of first-person shooters lie 
in the direction he is taking Daikatana ? 

Can he succeed without the support of 
John Carmack's latest engine? The r^-v—j 
proof will be in the playing. UL£< 




Different levels contain 
different weapons and 
different weather 


The game still retains id-style surprises around every comer 


83 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 




















fm ip 

■L:' 

m 


y fl 


illlfeaiM 

M 




llllJJIU.3DO.com 


UPRISING is a trademark of The 3D0 Company. © 1997 The 3D0 Company. All rights reserved. 




NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ns alphas 


Dark Vengeance 


I hether or not you think the 
name is kitschy, Reality Bytes 
is a developer to be taken 
seriously. The company's first real 3D 
effort, Havoc, a 3D shooter for the PC and 
Mac, was released in late 1995. Rated four 
stars, it featured unprecedented 
multiplayer action for it's time. Now two 
years later, the Boston-based developer 
opens the doors to its dungeon for a look 
at its second title, Dark vengeance. 

Set in a fantasy realm, players explore 


Players aren't limited to one role, 
they select one of five characters 


Look out Deathtrap Dungeon, Reality Bytes 
emerges from two years of development with 
an impressive fantasy combat adventure 



This fully 3D, third-person game features fantastically lit dungeons 
and beautifully designed polygonal characters to match 



the indoor and outdoor environs of Dark 
Vengeance from a third-person 
perspective. Unlike the more exploratory 
nature of Tomb Raider, Dark Vengeance 
is more combat focused, with melee 
elements divided between hand-to-hand 
combat, range weaponry and 
magic attacks. 

But as game designer Ken Levine 
describes, the player is not limited to a 
one character role, rather, they can select 
from five. "You're not just choosing a 
cosmetic difference, you're choosing the 
way you're going to play the game," Levine 
says. "For instance, we have this gladiator, 
and if you choose him, he's the guy who 
can use all the weapons in the game." 

On the opposite end of the spectrum 
is the warlock, who can use all the spells 
The other three characters offer more 
middle-of-the-road gameplay, yet the 
druid, the savage, and the 
trickster each have some 


unique aspects unto themselves. And all 
the characters have their own unique 
origin mission. 

"It introduces the player to why 
they're on the larger quests of the game," 
says Levine. Part of the Reality Bytes 


Format 

PC, Macintosh 

Publisher 

TBA 

Developer 

Reality Bytes 

Release Date 

First Quarter 1998 

Origin 

U.S. 


86 


Two female characters grace the game, the dagger-wielding druid, 
(right) and the trickster, carrying a short-sword (left) 
























ng alphas | 



Enemies such as these dark elves (above) will bleed when hit. Of course, 
there's always the undead (left) to contend with as well 




philosophy is that the story is an integral 
part of the game, and therefore, should be 
an integrated experience. "Another reason 
we wanted to make the origin mission and 
characters different," Levine expresses, "is 
because we want the player, upon 
completing the game, to have an 
immediate motivation to play it again as a 
different character." 

Dark Vengeance offers 20 levels (plus 
each character's origin level), more than 
100 spells, over 50 enemies, and 
approximately 50 weapons. But the team 
insists that the player does not build their 
character across a spreadsheet. Levine 
mentions that the game will have a strong 
multiplayer component as well, supporting 
up to 32 players on a LAN and between 10 
and 16 on the internet. "We are building a 
combat-oriented game," Levine says, "so 
it's not like players will move slowly down 
the dungeon in a group, we'll have them 
going out looking for ass to kick." 

Reality Bytes has been thinking ahead 
for this game, with 3D acceleration and 
MMX support in the works (the company 
won't recommend anything lower than a 
Pi 20 when the game ships). The company 
also remains dedicated to Macintosh 
development. "Our entire 3D game system 
has been maintained simultaneously on 
Mac and PC," declares Jon Chait, 


president and CEO. "We're also looking at 
how we can move it to new platforms in 
the future." 

Chait also explains that Dark 
vengeance will feature voice-over, and 3D 
sound support, a technology he maintains 
the company has had for three years. "It's 
really a matter now of making sure we use 
it best for the player," he says, "a fireball 
whizzing by and you hear it kind of 
Doppler off behind you. Or instead of 
making a pre-composed sword swipe 
sound, you actually hear it shift in sound 
from right to left if that's what's happening 
in terms of the motion." 

But it's Jason Davis, VP of R&D, who 
really nails the essence of their 
development ideal. "It's not just the 3D 
rendering, it's the entire 3D action 
system," Davis expounds, "we view our 
engine as a way to fully immerse you in 
the world." 

The company is in final negotiations 
for a publishing deal, and plan to make a 
demo available before Christmas, while 
Die By the Sword (see page 94) looks to be 
stiff competition, Dark Vengeance is 
shaping up into what could be the must- 
have PC fantasy game of 1998. ffpo7 




87 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 
















The planet you wish you never heard of 
and launches its attack on Windows® 




TANARUS sets a new standard in multiplayer action-strategy 

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deserts, futuristic cityscapes and frigid snow-swept lands. % 



Plant mines, fire an array of deadly missiles, and blow the 




opposition to kingdom come. 


Sony Interactive Studios America 


Tanarus is a trademark of Sony Computer 
Entertainment America Inc. ©1997 Sony Computer 
Entertainment America Inc. Windows 95 Is a 
registered trademark ot Microsoft Corporation. 




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Chat with tank teammates, or psych-out the opposition on an open line. 


Customize controls and peripherals, then choose from 5 different tanks with more than 
30 different weapons modules. 


MWf 


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Feel the effects that day and night cycles, and weather have on your tank drive. 

















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng alphas 


Agents of Justice 


Superhero games have never fared well on 
the PC, but Microprose hopes to buck the 
trend with its latest turn-based strategy game 



Beat up some bad guys, stop a few crimes, cause some minor 
structural damage — ah, the work of a superhero is never done 



ith the exception of fighting 
games based on specific 
licensed characters — a 
process which has tended to yield 
marginal results — there's a surprising 
lack of games based in a comic book 
superhero universe. A PC RPG, in 
development for several years and based 

Like x-COM, Agents is structured 
around turn-based missions 




on the Champions pen-and-paper game 
system, was lost in publisher limbo over 
two years ago, which at least in part is 
what prompted Chris Ward, along with 
producer Steve Garcia, to begin work on 
Agents of Justice. "It's simple," says Ward, 
"for the longest time I really wanted to 
play a superhero game, and so finally l 
thought, if this is going to happen I'd 
better develop it." 

Agents of Justice, based on an 
original superhero universe of Ward's 
design, bears a more than passing 
resemblance to Microprose's x-COM 
series, although ward claims, "It's like it, in 
that it's isometric, 3D tactical combat, but 
the X-COM group is an external group. We 
don't use any X-COM code." 

Like X-COM, Agents is structured 
around a series of turn-based missions, 


Format 

PC CD-ROM 

Publisher 

Microprose 

Developer 

Microprose 

Release Date 

Winter 1997 

Orisin 

U.S. 


generated randomly and ranging from 
stopping a bank robbery to hitting an 
enemy convoy or taking out an enemy 
base. The player gains money, fame, and 
information depending on his or her 
success during the missions, which can 
then be used to both develop each hero's 
powers and add to the player's base. 

Unlike X-COM, however, the player is 
not facing a single enemy, but three 
world-threatening organizations: the 
Shadoan, a "magical Yakuza" trying to 
summon a demon; the Tech Lords, a high- 
tech outfit threatening to knock out the 
world's computer systems; and The Claw, 
a crew of mad biochemists seeking to 
release a toxin to mutate all of mankind. 

The player will face all three groups 
simultaneously, and the relative strength 
and resources of each group will be 
generated randomly at the beginning of 
each game, leaving it up to the player to 
find out which is the weakest and how to 
best allocate resources to defeating the 
forces of evil. "Each of the different 
groups have a unifying but different style 
of powers and abilities," ward explains, 


90 
























ng alphas | 




"so particular heroes that you control are 
better suited to fighting certain groups. 

For example, the Shadoan tend to use 
ninja types, and a lot of them use a power 
called 'darkness,' so you'll need someone 
with superior sight to see them — they're 
difficult to hit and evasive. Whereas the 
Tech Lords use big robots, and they're just 
downright tough — not hard to hit but 
heavily armored." 

The game will make available 
between ten and 14 heroes (the exact 
number has yet to be decided) the player 
can choose from, each with a selection of 
12 different powers which can be 
"bought," based on a point system similar 
to that found in many RPGs. "Basically 
each hero is a character concept," Ward 
continues. "You're not forced to be this 
character or buy all the powers, but there 
is an overlying theme for each character, 
and the powers maintain that theme." 
Powers include abilities such as Energy 
Blast, Flight, X-Ray Vision, and Armor, and 
these powers can then be modified — an 
Energy Blast, for example, can be armor 
piercing or explosive. In addition to 
Powers are Skills, which include "normal" 



The game's missions are generated randomly, and each successful battle 
brings the player closer to finding each villainous organization's base 


abilities such as acrobatics, hand-to-hand 
combat, and detective skills. 

The character archetypes, however, 
are not meant to emulate classic comic 
book superheroes, but grew out of Ward's 
experience with pen-and-paper superhero 
RPGs such as Heroes Unlimited and 
Champions, "in fact, l was a power 
player," ward boasts. "We'd play them as if 
they were tactical wargames. So l know 
from this there are specific types of 
characters that every group always seems 
to need. Like a 'brick' — our 'brick' is 
Quake, a big rock guy who's really tough, 
very strong, uses a lot of hand-to-hand 
combat skills. Then you need some 'ray 
blasters,' who have a powerful attack that 
has range. There are themes which, if you 
play any of the superhero role-playing 
games, are all common, so we included 
as many as we could, and made sure we 
gave a big enough spread that the 
characters complement each other well." 

Ward concludes, "No matter how you 
look at it, there are always going to be 
some characters which you feel are 
better than others, because they adapt 
better to your style of gameplay. 

Everybody has their own style, and so that 
mixture is something they're going to 
have to find out for themselves, but we're 
doing everything we can to make p->—? 

sure the characters are balanced." Ul 



The characters grew out of designer Chris ward's experience with pen-and-paper superhero RPGs, but the player can easily modify each character 


91 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


























you'll aLwaYS rememBer Your 
fust Time untoercrounD. 



Actual 360° views from the game. 





AcTMsioN 


Since 1979. millions have fought for the love of magic in the Great Underground Empire of Zork. 
Now the Grand Inquisitor would love to see magic destroyed... and you totemized (a very bad thing). 
Rock-eating Brogmoids, gondola rides through Hades, and a bored Dungeon Master 
who lives inside vour lantern... It can only happen Underground. 


GranD openinG, Fan 1997 wirmows* 95 cd-rom 

Activision and Zork arc registered trademarks and Zork Grand Inquisitor is a trademark of Activision. Inc. <■ tqq~ Activision. Inc. All rights reserved. 

ademarksand tradt turn .activ ision.com 



NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng alphas 


Die by the Sword 


Five years of work went into the physics 
engine alone, but can Treyarch dethrone 
Core as the kings of third-person adventure? 



The bright textures stay sharp, whether the camera is zoomed out 
(above), or up close and personal in a decapitation (right) 



W hen asked about the influences 
for his upcoming 3D combat 
adventure Die by the Sword, 
project leader Peter Akemann's response 
was very encouraging to any longtime 
gamer. "One of the inspirations was the 
old Apple ll game Bilestoad. It's still one of 


"l was kind of disappointed by 
Virtua Fighter" 



my favorite games, and it was totally 
original." Akemann is right. More than 10 
years later, that overhead fighter still 
provides a level of control that is 
unequaled by any game. 

Die by the Sword may change that. 
The game looks and plays a bit like Tomb 
Raider, with the same third-person 
perspective and extremely fluid character 
animation. 

"When Tomb Raider came out, we 
were a little dismayed," Akemann 
concedes. "We'd been running around for 
a year hacking off people's limbs. But 
Tomb Raider was done very well." instead 
of the basic point-and-shoot control of 
Tomb Raider, however, DBTS offers 
complete control over the character's 
attacks. Each button on the number pad 
corresponds to a location where the 


Format 

PC 

Publisher 

Interplay 

Developer 

Treyarch 

Release Date 

Winter 1997 

Origin 

U.S. 


character can swing his weapon. 

There are more than 20 creatures in 
DBTS, ranging from the mundane 
(humans, skeletons) to the exotic (a bizarre 
tentacled beast 20 times larger than a 
human, capable of picking up attackers 
and throwing them against walls). A subset 
of these creatures are selectable in a 
melee mode similar to Star Control's ; 
players can choose from one to four 
creatures to fight against a second player 
or the computer, in what can best be 
described as a stripped-down Soul Edge. 
Different creatures have different attacks 
and attributes, but they all share the 
number pad weapon control. 

The comparisons to Tomb Raider are 
unavoidable; both games use a physics 
model for animation instead of motion 
capture. In DBTS' s case, however, the 
physics engine is the result of five years of 
post-graduate and doctorate work by 
Akemann. "It was always meant to be a 
game, though," he adds. "When l saw 
virtua Fighter, l saw what could be done. 
But at the same time, l was kind of 


94 


























ns alphas 




disappointed by it, because it was just 
Street Fighter with polygons." 

The melee mode is an interesting 
feature, but where DBTS really excels is in 
its adventure mode, it should exceed 
Tomb Raider in nearly every way, from the 
level of interaction with the environments 

"One of the inspirations was the 
old Apple ll game Bilestoad" 




to the number of solutions available to 
each problem, in one scene, goblins and 
their skeleton overseers are loading boxes 
onto a ship headed down river. One 
option, of course, is to dash sword-first 
into the fray, kill all the enemies, and 
commandeer the boat. Alternatively, the 
player can surreptitiously climb into one of 
the boxes and be loaded onto the boat by 
an unsuspecting toady. Depth like this is 
what makes DBTS a title to watch out for. 

When Die by the Sword is released, 
its main competition will likely be the most 
popular game of its type for the PC, Tomb 
Raider 2. Whether or not the game will 
outperform Core's highly anticipated 
sequel — or Eidos's other 3rd person 
fighter, Deathtrap Dungeon — remains to 
be seen, but DBTS certainly has p-v— 
what it takes to compete. UU§ < 


This huge tentacled beast attacks friend and foe alike (above). 
Objects like this turnstile (right) add to the game's interactivity 


95 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 



















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ng alphas | 


Earthworm Jim 3D 




Jim surfs the "slalami" on 
a sausage snowboard in 
a sub game (top) 



□ keep waking up in the morning 
and thinking, 'How the hell did 
we manage to get this?'" 
exclaims Chris van der Kuyl, Vis 
interactive's CEO. indeed, few videogame 
companies can boast of having secured 
the development of one of the industry's 
biggest titles without having previously 
developed a single game. 

Although Jim's creators maintain the 
right of approval, Vis was given carte 
blanche over the game's design, as the 
title suggests, Jim's antics take place in 
true 3D, allowing total freedom of 
movement within the game. But van der 
Kuyl quickly points out this is not merely 
a straight platform game with a 3D coat 
of paint. "We're not trying to do a shiny, 
glossy Jim — he's going to look like a 
cartoon but in full 3D. If we tried to do the 
original Jim games in 3D, we would have 
all sorts of horrendous problems. There 
are platforms and all those things. This a 
much more open game." 

In the game, Jim has suffered a 
severe blow to his head which has left 
him trapped within his own mind. The 
player's task is to repair his cerebral 
cortex by venturing into different areas 
of Jim's psyche, exploring his phobias, 
childhood memories, 
and fantasies, and 
repairing them. 

Jim's off-kilter persona is 
reflected in the game's 30 
stages. He travels through 
five worlds, each 


Disco zombies? Old ladies with walkers? Vis let its imagination run 
wild when coming up with characters to stock the game 


Following a long trail of his 16-bit brethren 
Jim goes 3D, but without his original designers 
to guide him along the z-axis 


Format 

Nintendo 64, PC, Playstation 

Publisher 

Interplay 

Developer 

Vis Interactive 

Release Date 

Q1 1998 

Origin 

Scotland 



Even without the personal supervision of Doug TenNapel and David 
Perry, the designers at vis have come up with some odd Jim antics 


representing different areas of his brain. 
"Happiness" finds him on a giant pizza 
where he has to struggle over toppings 
while avoiding hazards; "Fear" includes a 
range of classic horror cliches stemming 
from his over-consumption of B-flicks; 
and "Fantasy" indulges his long-standing 
desire to become a sheriff in a Wild West 
town. The whole experience resembles 
something that might have materialized 
out of David Lynch's mind. 

The game is being developed for 
N64, PlayStation, and PC, but there will be 
differences between the three versions, 
as van der Kuyl explains: "N64 will include 
all of the technological tricks that the 
machine allows. The PC version is in D3D, 
so with the right card it will look as good 
as N64. PlayStation will have a few 
different things since Jim will r"v-? 
never be exactly the same on it." UUoj 


97 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 









































VOVRBSBMN6 

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AND 


isthihwh 
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H, 






4SCII 


© 1997 YANOMAN GAMES © 1997 CLIMAX. All rights reserved. ASCII Entertainment, Felony 11-79, and the Felony 11-79 logo are trademarks 
of ASCII Entertainment Software, Inc. PlayStation and the PlayStation logo are trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. All other 
ENTERTAINMENT brand and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders. 













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ng alphas | 


EverQuest 



Since the entire world is polygonal, the characters look like they 
belong in the world, a feat sprites can't quite pull off 


H uge new trends in gaming are 
rare, but those that do occur 
usually change the very makeup 
of the industry. Games like Wolfenstein 
3D, Dune ll, and, regrettably, Myst have 
changed the way gamers think, play, and 
buy. None of these, however, has the 
chance to redefine the world of gaming 
the way online RPGs do. Many companies 
were quick to capitalize, including 3DO, 
with its unpolished Meridian 59, and 
Origin, whose daunting Ultima Online is 
one of the most anticipated titles in 
recent memory. Sierra was also quick to 
jump on the bandwagon with its well- 
executed title, The Realm. But 
surprisingly, one of the most promising 



Sony enters the online market in a big way 
with a direct challenge to Ultima Online 



Format 

Online 

Publisher 

SCEA 

Developer 

SISA 

Release Date 

TBA 

Origin 

U.S. 


online RPGs comes from PC and RPG 
rookie Sony interactive studios America. 

EverQuest, Sony's entry into the 
volatile market, in many ways surpasses 
Meridian 59, the game it most closely 
resembles. There are 12 races to choose 
from, including the rarely selectable ogre 
and troll. There are hundreds of learnable 
spells, divided among five magic-using 
classes. And the game will certainly move 
better than most: all of the objects are 
polygonal instead of sprite-based, 
meaning the monsters move like 
monsters instead of oddly shuffling 
toward the player. The game runs in 16- 
bit, 640-by-480 resolution, with native 
3Dfx and Direct3D support. 

Sony has elected to offer multiple 
camera views for EverQuest, from a first- 
person mode (resembling a polygonal 
Daggerfall) to several top-down views 
used to facilitate tactical combat. The 
polygonal characters look distinct in first- 
person mode; the size difference 
between ogres and dwarves is 



101 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 

























NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng alphas 


particularly striking. The characters 
themselves look rather blocky, but that is 
to be expected: the EverQuest servers 
are designed to accommodate over 1,000 
players each, simultaneously. 

The world of EverQuest is a true 
persistent environment, and a very 
realistic one; the environments range 

The servers can accommodate 
over 1,000 players each 



Rarely has a game combined great 
graphics with strong player interaction 




Violence (above) is one of many options available to disagreeing characters. EverQuest 
looks this good no matter how many characters are onscreen (above left) 


from standard dungeons to deserts, 
tundra, and underwater areas (only 
navigable after the casting of a water 
breathing spell), in addition to the five 
continents, there are alternate 
dimensions and otherworldly planes to 
explore as well. 

Character skills vary appropriately 
according to class; warrior classes can 
learn how to disarm their opponents, 
rogues eventually acquire the pick locks 
skill, magic users can transcribe scrolls to 
their spellbooks, and so on. All classes 
will have the ability to pkill (kill other 
players) if they desire, but even players 
who decide against it are not completely 
immune. Organizing a party is 
encouraged for venturing on quests, but 


players will still be able to lead the life of 
a wandering mercenary if they desire. 
SISA also promises the same career 
freedom found in Ultima Online: 
characters will be able to roleplay 
merchants, thieves, knights, or whatever 
strikes their fancy. 

With so much of Sony's marketing 
muscle devoted to PlayStation, though, it 
is an open question as to whether 
EverQuest will get the support it 
deserves. Until now, it took a lucky 
wander through Sony's Station.com site 
to even learn that Sony is doing native PC 
development at all — you might think the 
excellent online-only tank game Tanarus 
was a state secret for all the publicity it 
gets. EverQuest could be Ultima Online's 
biggest competitor for the online RPG 
crown; hopefully the marketers in Foster 


102 





















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Copyright 1997. ATI Technologies Inc. ATI. XPERT@Play. and 3D RAGE PRO and ATI-TV are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of ATI Technologies Inc. All other company 
and/or product names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective manufacturers. Features, performance, and specifications may vary by operating 
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SDRAM memory at 1024x768xl6bpp@75Hz and 640x480xl6bpp@75Hz respectively. Hardware and driver versions used: ATI XPERTy Play 4MB. driver v4.IO; Matrox Mystique 
4MB SGRAM vl.2, driver v3.14; Creative 3D Blaster 4MB SGRAM vl.21, driver v4.02.020l; Creative Graphics Blaster 30 4MB RAM BUS. driver v4.03.00.2101.2 Screen shot examples 
from FORMULA 1. FORMULA I is the creation of PSYGNOSIS. Licensed by FOCA to Fuji Television. Used with permission. Terracide is a registered trademark of Eiders Interactive. 
WIRL is a registered trademark of PLATINUM Technology Inc. '"Suggested retail price for 4MB upgradeable version. 


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The fly Compute® tertainment logo is ^trademark of Sony Cora PlayStation and the PlayStation logos are trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment 
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by Son^Kactive Studios r.;;;;:,ca. ©1997 Sony Computer LnterHbnent America Inc. www.playstation.com 





4 > 

PlayStation 


i? HEAVEN IS ANYTHING LIKE 
WRIGLEY FIELD ON A SATURDAY AFTERNOON, 
THEN DEATH WOULDN’T RE SUCH A DAD THING. 



PROPERTY OF PLAYSTATION 
ATHLETIC DEPT. 





NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


; ng alphas 


SpearHead 


Having formed a dynamic development duo, 



Mak Technologies and zombie bring real 
military experience to the art of the sim 


SpearHead features numerous views, including an 
overhead view, which might be helpful If you want to take the 
70+ ton M1A2 out on the open road at speeds of more than 60 mph 


S even years ago warren Katz met 
Mark Long while collaborating 
on the Hasbro "Toaster" virtual 
reality project that never saw daylight, 
undaunted, the two have both since 
established visionary companies: Katz 
founded Boston-based Mak Technologies, 
a networking leader for the U.S. military's 
simulators, and Long co-founded Zombie, 
the Seattle-based next-generation game 
developer. Realizing the potential 
possibilities of a collaboration, the two 
have pooled their cumulative company 
talents for SpearHead, an Abrams M1A2 
tank sim for PC. 


SpearHead will be the first tank 
sim with 3D accelerator support 


Set in 1998, SpearHead takes players 
to Tunisia, where they must use a tank to 
repel invading Libyan forces, with 50 
single-player and 20 multiplayer missions, 
SpearHead 's battles take place in five 
different time-of-day and weather 
condition variables — dawn, noon, dusk, 
night, and storm. Players have several in¬ 
tank and external camera perspectives to 
choose from. 

According to Zombie producer John 


Format 

PC 

Publisher 

US: TBA, International: BMG 

Developer 

Mak Technologies/Zombie 

Release Date 

4th Quarter 1997 

Origin 

U.S. 



106 
























ng alphas | 


Williamson, play-balancing the game 
while keeping it realistic was the biggest 
design challenge from the outset. "Most 
of the reality of the military is hours of 
monotony broken up by seconds of sheer 
panic," says Williamson, who along with 
Katz has spent years working with 
military simulators. "So the trick is to cut 
away the hours of boredom, and focus 
on giving the player enough things to do, 
while still keeping things accurate." 

So how have Zombie and Mak 
divided the workload? "Zombie's 
responsible for the art direction and the 
game design, and providing the art 
assets," explains Williamson. He goes on 
to say that while Mak is a technically only 
a sub-contractor on SpearHead, it's 
brought invaluable experience to the 
project, including 18-person simultaneous 
internet play. "They're responsible for the 
coding and the technical work," 
Williamson says," and making sure that I 
don't ask for the impossible, like 600 
million polygons going at once. [Laughs.]" 

While 600 million simultaneous polys 
are out of the question, Zombie and Mak 
have done a fantastic job pushing 3D 
polygonal environments. SpearHead will 
be the first tank sim to market with 3D 
accelerator support for the 3DFX-chipset, 
and possibly Rendition's as well. "I 
wanted to have the whole screen be 3D," 
Williamson says, "as opposed to a lot of 



games where you play the game through 
a cockpit so half the screen is a 2D sprite 
and the rest of the screen is 3D." 
Williamson also notes that they've opted 
to go full-screen, avoiding little windows 
or a cockpit view. "I'm very proud of the 
fact," he adds, "that all the texture maps 
you see, with rare exception, are 
photographs of real vehicles." Zombie 
even consulted satellite images of Tunisia 
before building a 16-by- 24 square 
kilometer map, upon which all battles are 
based. But the team hasn't stopped 
there, populating environments with 
polygonal people, and implementing 
special effects, including dynamically lit 
particle-system explosions, and a 
MechWarrior -like "thermal vision" mode. 

More than just eye candy, SpearHead 
incorporates real tank physics and 
ballistic models that take range and shell 
type into account. For the audio, 
Williamson explains that he spent time on 
military bases recording audio samples of 
real tanks, and that other sound samples 
came directly from the military's SimNet. 
"All the sound," Williamson says, "is 3D 
spatialized audio, so when a tank drives 
by the left, it sounds like it's on your left." 

Due to BMG's publishing withdrawal 
from the U.S. market, Zombie is currently 
shopping the game to distributers; 
although nothing was finalized by 
presstime. Assuming a deal comes 
through, the game will be on store 
shelves this year. 

Mak also recently won a contract to 
develop a Marine training game for the 
Department of Defense, (tentatively 
entitled MEU-31) and Katz already is 
suggesting that Mak will again team with 
Zombie for that title. While still a few 
months out, SpearHead already proves 
that Mak and Zombie's symbiotic 
development relationship is a (—v~, 

successful one. 



Thermal vision (above) lends support to 
night missions. Actual photos make up 
the textures, as in these buildings (left) 



Both Mak and Zombie 
staff have experience on 
the US military's SimNet 


107 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ns alphas 


An interview with 


□ » 

V 


I s the president of 
Mak Technologies, 

I Warren Katz has 
secured the first contract to 
generate an original commercial-style game for 
the Department of Defense. ( Battlezone and 
Doom were pre-existing titles that were modified 
for the military). A smiling Katz discusses how his 
military simulation company is adapting to the 
gaming business 

Next Generation: Can you give us a brief 
overview of Mak Technologies? 

Warren Katz: it's a very robust company; we 
have three main divisions: A division that sells 
commercial software products to the Department 
of Defense, and to international customers that 
develop simulation products for their 
governments; We have a contract research and 
development division, so can get governmental 
grants to research new networking protocols or 
new terrain database technologies; And the 
videogame group, which is smaller than the other 
two but growing rather rapidly, and making use of 
the huge cache of technology we keep 
generating in the other two divisions 
NG: Prior to the games, most of Mak's work has 
been for SimNet. Can you explain SimNet? 

WK: SimNet was an experiment started in 1983. 
At that point, training in the U.S. 

Army and throughout the U.S. 

Department of Defense was 
more of a single-cockpit trainer 
where you'd train the person 
how to fly or how to drive a tank. What they did 
not have, and what they needed very badly, was a 
way to train teams to work on collaborative tasks. 
SimNet was intended to network a large number 
of simulators together so the government could 
conduct combined arms tactical training 
exercises. 

The project wound up being a wild success 
and in 1990 the Department of Defense 
mandated the use of a standard called DIS 
(Distributor Interactive Simulation). Anybody who 
wanted to sell a simulator to the U.S. government 
from that point on was required to make it DIS 
compliant. So that's where Mak came in. we 
came up with the first DIS networking toolkit in 
the industry in 1992, and since that time Mak 
Technologies has become the world's leading 
supplier of DIS software to the worldwide military 
simulation market. 

NG: SpearHead uses some of SimNet's 
technology, correct? 

WK: Tbere's actually quite a bit of military- 
funded software in that game right now. The 
protocol we use in SpearHead is actually 


Warren Katz 


something called "DIS Lite", which is a chopped- 
down version of DIS. The Air Force actually 
wanted a lighter-weight, leaner, meaner version of 
DIS for air-to-air combat, and they paid us to 
develop DIS Lite which wound up being extremely 
suitable for this game environment. 

NG: Does SpearHead use direct audio samples 
from SimNet? 

WK: Yes. I worked in the SimNet system for my 
last company, and l spent many hours in the tank 
simulator. So it's pretty bizarre for me to hear the 
sounds l am so used to from that simulator 
coming out of the game. 



"The Department of Defense will pay a 
major portion of our developing costs" 


NG: As far as visuals go, how does SpearHead 
compare to SimNet's graphics? 

WK: To be quite frank, the graphics performance 
in SpearHead exceeds the performance of the 
SimNet system. Ten years ago, the SimNet image 
generator cost about $100,000. Today, for $2,000 
your PC will outperform it. 

NG: So what's the deal with your gaming 
partnership with the Department of Defense? 

WK: We have proposed a game development 
project to the Marines, it's called MEU-31 ["MEU" 
stands for Marine Expeditionary unit]. Essentially, 
the Department of Defense is going to pay us a 
major fraction of our developing costs so that 
they can use the game as a trainer for Marines. 

So we're getting approximately half the 
funding from the DoD, half the funding is coming 
from a commercial game publisher, and we 
intend to produce an extremely realistic Marine 
amphibious assault game. The Marines are 
actually going to help us with the subject matter 
expertise and the game design and the game 
contents. On the game publisher side, they're 
going to help us make it fun and appeal to a 


mass market. What the DoD gets out of this is a 
very professionally-made training product at 50 
cents on the dollar, and they can buy as many 
copies as they want for $59.95, which is an 
unheard-of low price in the DoD. 

On the commercial side, getting the 
endorsements of the U.S. Marines and getting 
their assistance in development will make it 
hyper-realistic, unparalleled in the games industry. 
NG: Any other outstanding MEU-31 features you 
can share with us now? 

WK: The really interesting thing is that MEU-31 is 
going to be network-compatible with SpearHead. 
And that's a first in the industry. Never before 
have two network titles been network-compatible 
such that each player in a different game can see 
the other players and interact with them. 

NG: Have you done any special work with 
SpearHead to insure this? 

WK: We'll probably have to release an updated 
version of SpearHead to have the same exact 
terrain database as the MEU game. It opens up 
tremendous possibilities as far as having very 
large-scale battlefields, and having a large 
number of sim games linked together. Tank 
games, flight-sim games, 
submarine games, surface 
ship games, all fighting in the 
same war. 

NG: How far along is MEU? 

WK: We're entering the design phase for the non- 
DoD components, in the final selection process 
for our publisher, and l expect that we will go into 
full design swing in the summer and go to full 
development in the fall. 

NG: So will Zombie also be involved in MEU? 

WK: Yeah, we liked the model of SpearHead so 
much that we are going to try and work with the 
model in MEU. in this case Mak will be more in 
charge of the business aspects of the contract 
since we are doing all the work with the military. 
NG: Will there be more than one version? 

WK: There are going to be two versions We 
obviously don't want to release classified data to 
the public which the Marines would like to keep 
quiet. Things like weapons characteristics. 

NG: Do you feel you have an edge in that you 
receive classified sim information that isn't 
publicly available? 

WK: We obviously aren't being given any 
classified information that we can use outside 
of classified programs. That's illegal. A lot of 
classified data is actually quite boring and 
not useful, though, despite it's secrecy. 


108 



















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■U - MB 



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For more information on game ratings contact the ESRB at 1-800-771-3772. Constructor: TM & ©1997 Acclaim Entertainment. Inc. All Rights Reserved. 


THE SIMULATION WITH STREET SMARTS is a trademark of Acclaim 



Oops! Your Psycho Clown lit a match 
and took out an enemy block. 


"One of those games that Keeps us 
at the office late." 

- Ultra Game Players (June '97) 

"Constructor is fun and challenging 
on so many levels." 

- GameSpot (June '97) 



Manage your finances or bean-counting 
bankers will descend like vultures! 







"Constructor takes the Sim game 
idea to the Nth degree." 

- E6M (April 97) 

"Constructor grabs you with its humor 
and keeps you glued to your seat with 
its well balanced and compelling 
resource management aspect” 

Computer £ Net Player M'97) 

"The humor is sharp, the graphics 
are well-composed, and the gameplay 
is intelligent without being dull." 

- GameSpot (June '97) 


.) 

J 

I 

1 


Just when you thought it was safe- 
enemy zombies invade your turf! 


Hooligans are down for a 4 player 
network (or modem) party! 


Master resources, control territories, 
build empires. It’s all in a day’s work. 


Mess with the mob and you’ll be 
taken out with the trash! 


























Entertainment, Inc. ACCLAIM is a registered trademark of Acclaim Entertainment, Inc. Original concept developed by System 3. Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. O 1996 Microsoft Corporation. 



MNNUNESTMEM 


Another day, another mobster to pay off, another drunken rave to bust up, another commune to fumigate. 
This is no ordinary sim. This is a city where the foremen take graft, unlicensed repairmen screw up 
your apartment buildings and psychos roam the streets. We gave life to your simulation in all its funky, 
misbegotten, low-down glory. So if you want to build sprawling utopias, get rich and rule the world — 
you're gonna have to get your hands dirty. 

HEY, IT'S YOUR CITY...DEAL WITH ITI 











y ?Juyjiu]jyjJ M yujjjy tuni'A 
w.] hr jjj u :h jjJjjlwys^ 
yy/j in jjjyyj iljy ilyjjjiiijdjjg 


PlayStation 


Licensed by Sony Computer Entertainment America for use with the PloyStotion game console. PlayStation and 
PlayStation logos are trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Alps is a registered trademark of Alps Electric 
Co., Ltd. of Jopan. Alps Interactive and the Alps Interactive logos ore trademarks of Alps Electric Co., Ltd. Patent Pending. 
Porsche is a trademark of Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche AG. 


Ever feel like driving a Porsche®? Want to? The Alps Gamepad for th 
offers you the power, performance, and handling you've been waiti 
finely-tuned and tested controller designed by professional game pla 
needs of today's gamers. 


For more info visit us at 
www.interactive.alps.com 
800-720-ALPS 









0 ng alphas | 


Killwheel 




□ layStation has established itself 
so well in the top-selling genres 
(sports, racing, fighting) that it's 
getting hard to find anything new. Apt 
Productions, formerly Caps, (X- Men 2, 

Pink Panther, and Taz 2 for Genesis) 
hopes to change that with Killwheel, a 
bizarre new action game. 

It's hard to categorize Killwheel — a 
game in which the player drives a large, 
destructive wheel on a mad downhill roll, 
crushing buildings and clubbing 
opponents for points. VP of product 
development, Richard Robinson, tried to 
captured the tone of the game when he 
told Next Generation, "it's like Rampage, 
in that we want the players to just have 
fun with it." 

Set in a fantasy realm, players 
assume the roll of a two-headed ogre 
who "killwheels" over villages of dwarves, 
elves, and halflings. From a chase-view 
perspective, the player must navigate 
more than 20 half-pipe shaped tracks, 



Halflings attack from airial balloons (above) and will voraciously chase 
the player on foot when the Killwheel crushes their tavern (top) 


HeadGames turns a two-headed ogre's rite 
of passage into a freewheeling, elf-killing, 
hobbit-crushing, gaming experience 



The forward scrolling valley terrain is reminiscent of Total Eclipse. 
The strongholds in this later level (above) are difficult to destroy 


Format 

PlayStation 

Publisher 

TBA 

Developer 

Apt Productions/HeadGames 

Release Date 

Q1 1998 

Origin 

U.S. 


which lend a "snowboarding game" feel 
(players can pull 360° in-air spins off 
jumps) to the title. Otherwise the driving 
combat gameplay most closely compares 
to Road Rash. 

As in Road Rash, players can upgrade 
their weapons and gain access to better 
vehicles — in this case, more powerful 
Killwheels. Granted, they'll first have to 
survive each course and successfully 
complete it under the time limit. 

The game is set to run at 30 fps, and 
was developed solely with proprietary 
tools. Each wheel model is more than 
1,000 polygons, and each boss averages 
over 800 polygons. 

Killwheel may not offer the variety or 
polish of Nintendo's Blast Corps, but it's 
along the same novel lines and should 
attract gamers who want fast-paced 
destruction. And let's face it, who 
doesn't, at least sometimes? UUS ) 


113 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 






















Midway Games Inc. is a global manufacturer of coin-operated and home 
entertainment systems and a magnet for talented, creative people 
who thrive on fast-paced career challenges and cutting-edge 
technology. We seek to add brilliant individuals to our growing 
developmental team in these areas: 

Game Designers 

Computer Graphic Specialists 
Electrical Engineers 
Audio Specialists 
3D Artists & Animators 
Game Programmers 
C/UNIX Programmers 


MIDWAY 


@1997 Midway Games Inc. All rights reserved. Midway Games Inc. is an equal opportunity employer. 


ng alphas | 


Monster Rancher 



The player s Job Is to control every aspect of the monster s life, from its birth (bottom left) to encounters with 
other monsters In town (top left) to the inevitable clash between the various monsters in the game (above) 


□ ecmo's 8- and 16-bit histories 
read like an EKG: innovative 
games like Tecmo Bowl and 
Ninja Gaiden followed by a glut of 
scarcely improved sequels. Recently, 
however, Tecmo has arisen from its 
design slumber and come up with some 
very interesting titles: Deception, the 
Model 2-based Dead or Alive fighting 
game, and now Monster Rancher. 

Monster Rancher doesn't fit 
neatly into any genre, it is perhaps best 

Monsters are created by sampling 
any of the player's audio CDs 


described as a breeding sim with RPG- 
like combat. The player's job is to create 
a monster based, believe it or not, on 
samplings of audio CDs. The game 
actually prompts the player to insert an 
audio CD of his or her choosing and 
then scans it for information (song 
length, number of tracks, etc.) to define 
the monster's strength, abilities, and 
appearance. (Monsters can also be 


Format 

PlayStation 

Publisher 

Tecmo 

Developer 

Tecmo of Japan 

Release Date 

TBA 

Origin 

Japan 


generated randomly as well.) 

Tecmo's Dimitri Criona describes 
what comes next: "You have to train 
your monster, take it to town, put it into 
fights — you have to really control it as 
if it were a pet." 

But what a dangerous pet. Once the 
creation process is complete, the player 
acts as its manager, controlling it in 
fights against other monsters. Tecmo is 
promising multiplayer support, with at 
least one mode set in stone: monsters 
can be saved to memory cards, taken to 
other PlayStations, and pitted against 
other players' creations. 

That is, if anyone else has the game, 
its appeal may not be as wide as 
Tecmo's earlier efforts, but Monster 
Rancher certainly deserves a look, and 
Tecmo deserves commendation rrv—, 
for taking the road less traveled. U 



NEXT GENERATION September 1997 






























NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng alphas 


Melbourne House 



Managing director Adam Lancman (left) and chairman Fred Milgrom 
have kept Melbourne House on track for a remarkable 18 years 



ever heard of Melbourne House? 
Shame on you. Australia's 
premiere game developer has 
been making games since 1980, and now 
it's planning a return to the limelight. 

in Europe back in the early 1980's, 
Atari didn't have the same stranglehold 
over the videogaming industry that it 
enjoyed in the U.S., and the Commodore 
64 and Sinclair Spectrum (both 8-bit home 
computers) were the gameplaying 
platforms of choice. Because you didn't 
need a license to produce games for 
these machines, the door was left open 
for anyone to make a game and publish it. 
This time period is one of the classic gold- 
rush, experimental eras of western game 
development, and spawned such veteran 
game companies as Ocean, US Gold, and 
Ultimate Play The Game (which would later 



Melbourne, Australia is home to one of 
gaming's longest running development houses 


change its name to Rare). But before all of 
these companies were even drawing up 
design documents, Melbourne House (the 
publishing label of Beam Software) had 
become the premiere game label of an 
entire generation. "You'd have to go to 
Japan to find a game developer who 
started before we did and are still going 
strong," says Alfred Milgrom, Chairman of 
Beam international, smiling with a justified 
sense of pride. 

The company first shot to center 
stage in 1982 with The Hobbit (arguably 

"You'd have to go to Japan to find 
a developer who started before 
we did and are still going strong" 


the first graphic adventure, based on the 
Tolkien novel) and reinforced its status in 
1985 with Way of The Exploding Fist, (a 
one-on-one karate game, undoubtedly 
inspirational to modern 2D fighters) which 
sold 500,000 copies across Europe. With a 
supporting cast of solid titles such as 

























ng alphas | 



1983's Penetrator (a Scramble clone), 
1984's Lord Of The Rings (the much 
anticipated follow-up to The Hobbit), and 
1986's Rock 'n' Wrestle (the first wrestling 
game for computer formats), Melbourne 
House blazed a trail that others would 
follow. Shiny's Dave Perry fondly 
remembers playing Melbourne House 
games as a kid, and it's certain that many 
more of today's game designers were first 
inspired by these Australian pioneers. 

in 1987, however, the Melbourne 
House story seemed to come to a close. 
"Beam Software was running the 
development from Australia and 
Melbourne House was our U.K.-based 
publishing arm," explains Milgrom. "So we 

"We spent a year developing 
products that went nowhere" 

Alfred Milgrom, Managing Director 


had the full publishing operation. But 
around 1987 a lot of our U.K. people went 
on to other companies and at around the 
same time the industry was moving from 
8-bit to 16-bit. It was pretty chaotic. We 
didn't have the management depth at that 
time to run both the publishing and 
development sides of things, so we ended 
up selling off the whole Melbourne House 
publishing side to Mastertronic." 

From this point on, the Melbourne 
House name floundered. "Mastertronic 
decided that Melbourne House should 
move directly to 16-bit" explains Milgrom, 
"and as a result we spent a whole year 


developing products that went nowhere. 
They never got published. It was a 
complete waste of time. A year later Virgin 
bought Mastertronic and got the Sega 
license — which is what l think they were 
really interested in all along — made 
heaps of money, and Melbourne House 
was left to fall by the wayside." 

Beam software then became a 
developer of games for other companies, 
at which it has achieved prolific success. 
Chances are that over the last ten years 
you've played more than one Beam game 
without realizing it. With 28 NES games, 8 
Genesis games, 14 Super NES games, 25 
GameBoy games, 3 PlayStation games 
(including Gex for Crystal Dynamics), and 2 
Saturn games (including Lost Vikings 2 for 
interplay) under its belt, Beam has kept 
itself busy. According to Adam Lancman, 
Beam Software's Managing Director, "We 
tended to get the jobs that no one else 
wanted to touch because we were known 
to have the technological smarts to 
achieve results in areas that no one else 
wanted to attempt." 

These "technological smarts" are 
largely born of Beam's need to remain 
largely self-sufficient. "It's not as if any of 
us can just pop down the road to visit, say, 
Metroworks to get answers to questions 




. 




117 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng alphas 




Europe's 8-bit classics, 
way of the Exploding Fist 
(top) and The Hobbit 


We largely have to come up with our own 
solutions and sort out our own problems" 
According to Lancman, "We wouldn't be 
here after 17 years if we didn't know how 
to change with the times and work with 
new technology." 

But the real news with Beam 
Software in 1997 is that it has relaunched 
Melbourne House as a label. "Virgin simply 
let the Melbourne House name lapse," 
reveals Lancman with a smile. "So we took 
it back. It's ours again." in March, the 
Command & Conquer- inspired Krush Kill 
'n' Destroy (aka KKnD) was the first Beam 
game to be released on the Melbourne 
House publishing label in almost ten years 
"We're still going to continue developing 
games for other people," explains 
Lancman, "but we believe we have an 
understanding of what the punter out 
there is looking for. We're not driven by the 
sales and marketing people who often 
don't have the full picture or knowledge of 
who it is that's playing these games, so we 
can produce the games that we want to 
make for ourselves." 

And Melbourne House seems to be 
producing a little bit of everything. "We 
don't have a particular speciality of 
expertise," concedes Milgrom, "but one 
thing that we will continue producing is 
non-North American sports games. 
They're rarely in the Top Ten at year's 
end, but there's always a strong market 
for them," he reasons. "We'll produce 
anything that we think is fun and 
playable, really." 

So will we see modern day versions 
of Melbourne House classics? "I think the 
only value left in any of our old 8-bit 
games is in the names of the titles, not in 
any of the designs or gameplay," admits 


Milgrom. But that doesn't mean that the 
underlying respect for gameplay and 
playability that made these old games 
such classics is no longer part of 
Melbourne House's ethos. "We're looking 
at the trend towards retro gaming, sure," 
says Lancman, "and the gameplay that 
worked in 1980 still has relevance today. 
We may dress it up in a different way, but 
fundamentally the gaming experience of, 
say, Pac-Man is as valid today as it was 17 
years ago." 

The development of Alien Earth, 
Beam's current main project due for 
release through PlayMates, seems to 
follow this philosophy. As a follow-up to 
ShadowRun, (1993’s critically acclaimed 
but commercially underachieving Super 
NES release) Alien Earth's producer, David 
Giles, hopes to, "Keep the original's 
gameplay RPG/combat/adventure 
elements that people liked, but up the 
graphic side of it." The game is set in a 
universe where humans face extinction 
at the hands of alien invaders. Beam is 
especially proud of the game's visuals, 
and has employed a 15-person team to 
ready the title for a late 1997 release. 

The company already has plans for 
future PlayStation and PC games. "But it's 
unlikely that we'll develop for Nintendo 
64," says Milgrom, "because we simply 
can't afford the cartridge business at the 
moment." And what success does the 
new Melbourne House label hope to 
achieve? "The videogame market is 
becoming increasingly dominated by 
seven or eight major publishers," 
concedes Milgrom, "but that doesn't 
mean that there isn't room for focused, 
independent development. The industry 
needs that freshness and innovation — 
Quake and Doom would never r-^~i 
have happened without it." ul>£ < 





118 
















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Calendar ai Events 


IEN 

IMAGINE GAMES NETWORK 


IMAGINE GAMES NETWORK 



PC GAMER ON THE PALACE 

Join the PC Gamer editorial team 
on the Palace for a chat about 
gaming. Plus Special Surprise 
Industry Guest. 


bases, and leave no stones unturned. 
Bonus! Test your Final Fantasy knowl¬ 
edge in our massive FF Trivia Contest 
and win tons of awesome FF goodies! 


www.gamefaqs.com 


MON 8 


DOWNLOAD DEMENTIA 



http://www. 2 erograv.com 


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www.gaming- 

enthusiast.com 


wwwdnfods 

.com/trader/ 


www.videogamelinks.com 


PlayStatlc 

nation 


THOVF LOGO CONTEST 

Sept. 1 kicks off our month-long 
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POLL: THE NEXT BIG CONSOLE 

A special Videogamers.com poll 
asks you: What is the next con¬ 
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2, Black Belt, M2, or something 
else? 


VF3: WHERE ARE YOU? 

SaturnWorld looks at the current 
progress of the most anticipated 
arcade-to-home conversion, and 
why it's taking so long. 


WHAT IS CAPCOM DOING ON 
N64? 

N64.com reports on Capcom's 
ongoing relationship with 
Nintendo. What is Capcom doing 
on N64? Will Nintendo grab 
exclusive titles on N64 or will 
Capcom leverage its games across 
all platforms? A full investigation. 


SUPER Q&A DAY 

Join the editors of Next 
Generation Online as they shed 
light upon your most pressing 
videogame questions. More than 
25 questions will be answered in 
this double-sized Q&A. 


TUES9 


WED 10 


THUR11' 


FRI 12 


MON 15 


TUES 16 


Five new demos of the hottest PC 
games will be added to Next 
Generation Online's ever growing 
demo collection. 


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Live from London, England. All the 
latest developments from Europe's 
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Next Generation Online interviews the 
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FINAL FANTASY EXTRAVAGANZA 

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The all-purpose 64DD feature. What is 
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like? N64.com delves into the heart of 
Nintendo's upcoming peripheral, and 
surfaces with answers. 

BACK-TO-SCHOOL LINE-UP 

For many, September is the time to 
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next few months. 

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N64.Com provides a full international 
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MON 29 


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CHRISTMAS PICKS 

What's going to be hot and what's 
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RARE BREED 

N64.com looks into the blossoming of 
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and examines the current crop of 
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Rare better Super Mario 64? 

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BRONX 

Can a third-party company, using the 
same hardware, make a better Saturn 
fighter than a Sega development 
team? Saturn World checks out the lat¬ 
est between these two hot games. 


S 

E 

P 

T 

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M 

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| E8GAMERQE 

171 

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lor even more events! 










PlayStation 


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ng alphas | 


Plane Crazy 



Microsoft's and Intel's inroads into arcade 
entertainment begin in earnest 


:rosoft's and Intel's arcade initiative 
I, as such, will set the tone for the 
attempts of the two corporate PC giants to 
undermine the likes of Sega and Namco 
on their home ground. 

Andrew Walker, head of games 
development at inner Workings, is 
enthusiastic about the economic 
possibilities of the Microsoft/Intel initiative, 
"it opens up the whole arcade world for 
developers and systems integrators. 
Currently, arcade boxes sell to operators at 
about $15,000, and it takes a long time for 
them to make a profit, what operators get 
with the Microsoft/Intel machines is the 
ability, once demand does tail off, to open 
up the box and replace the CD." 

"The starting price for our boxes 
hasn't been decided, but l reckon it'll 
come in at around $7,000," adds Walker's 
colleague, Mike Lancaster. "A few years 
ago the U.S. coin-op market was worth $6 


Plane Crazy's levels offer a diversity of scenery. Some require the 
player to maneuver through tight spaces between rocky cliff faces 


Format 

Arcade, PC, PlayStation 

Publisher 

TBA 

Developer 

Inner Workings 

Release Date 

December 1997 

Origin 

Scotland 


G lasgow-based developer inner 
workings isn't exactly a 
household name. Until now, it 
has contented itself with producing 
childrens' multimedia CD-ROMs for a 
number of illustrious publishers, including 
the BBC (Wallace and Gromit Fun Pack) 
and Dorling Kindersley (The Jolly Post 
Office). But its first game, Plane Crazy, may 
catapult it to fame this autumn, whether it 
lives up to expectations or not. 

Plane Crazy is a cute-looking 3D- 
modeled plane racer with gameplay more 
akin to a motor-racing game than a flight 
sim, thanks to a series of courses 
featuring cliffs and tunnels and topped by 
an invisible "ceiling" above which the 
player cannot fly. It's different, fast, 
attractive, and makes good use of 3D 
graphics cards via Direct3D. 

But the most startling thing about it is 
that it will appear as a coin-op in 
December, running on arcade boxes that 
are essentially pumped-up PCs, before 
shipping for Windows 95 and PlayStation 
early next year. In other words, it's the first 
game designed to take advantage of 



The plane may not be 
realistic, but it is 
certainly fun to fly 



The technology may be cutting-edge, but the visuals retain a rather 
basic — if wonderfully textured — feel 


123 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 



























NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng alphas 



billion, but it has now come down to $2 
billion because the machines are more 
expensive and there's less choice." 

On the basis that Microsoft/Intel 
machines will be about half the price of 
current machines and easily upgradeable, 

"l want to get arcade machines 
back into convenience stores" 

Andrew Walker, head of games development 


Walker and Lancaster think they will be 
greeted as saviors by beleaguered arcade 
owners. But can these boxes really 
compete with high-powered arcade 
machines? Lancaster reckons that they 
can. "if you look, say, at Sega's range, its 
games have only gotten slightly better 
from Daytona through Sega Rally to Super 
GT," he claims. 

Walker believes that 3D-accelerated 
games on PC are now fully on par with 
cutting edge arcade games. "3D 
accelerator technology is the key, along 
with the idea of generic software provided 
by DirectX support. I'm sure that Microsoft 
and Intel will publish a new spec every 


year. Innovations like AGP will become 
increasingly important." 

If you find a Plane Crazy machine this 
winter, check out how it stacks up against 
its peers, bearing in mind that under the 
hood will be a 266MHz Pentium II, at least 
32MB Of RAM, a 3Dfx card, a USB 
controller and a 24-speed 
CD-ROM drive. 

There are some unresolved 
questions, such as how developers will be 
paid if arcade operators start putting off- 
the-shelf games in their machines (which 
would be illegal under current U.S. law), 
walker doesn't regard that as a problem, 
and prefers to dwell on the potential 
advantages, such as the intriguing 
prospect of including modems in the 
arcade boxes. He also points out that CD- 
based games make it easier to sell 
localised advertising. But his ultimate 
ambition is "to get arcade machines back 
into the convenience stores and fast-food 
joints, and thus expand the market." 

Considering the state the arcade 
industry is in today, Next Generation 
certainly hopes Plane Crazy helps 
to achieve just that aim. 

















/\nv«\nceo n 

Du n geonsocDra gons 



Trapped between good and evil, 

vou’ll find vourself at... 

* * 



"...one of the most anticipated RPG titles for the PC'" 

- Next Generation Online 


The Adventure Begins this October. 



ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, AD&D, FORGOTTEN REALMS and the TSR logo are registered trademarks owned by TSR, Inc. BALDUR'S GATE is a 
trademark owned by TSR, Inc. Trademarks are used under license from TSR, Inc. Interplay is a trademark of Interplay Productions. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the 

property of their respective owners. 





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The way games 
ought to he... 


in search of the 
future of gameplay 


How force-feedback gives computers another way to 
communicate with gamers 


I magine a creature that can't talk, can't 
make any facial expressions, can't 
gesticulate with its hands, and can't 
read or write, imagine that all the other 
creatures in its world have exactly the same 
limitations as it does. Furthermore, imagine that 
although this creature can see its immediate 
surroundings, it can't taste anything, it can't 
smell anything, and it can't feel anything. 

This creature sounds as if it leads a lonely, 
very basic existence, doesn't it? 

Now, imagine that the only real power this 
creature has in the silent, hypothetical world it 
inhabits is the ability to move in one of eight 
directions (at only one speed) and then stop, it 
can also jump up and down, it also has a couple 
of things that it can turn on or off to "use" — 
one might be a laser gun, the other might be a 
teleporter — but these things can only be used 
for their designated purpose. 

This life-form seems sure seems primitive, 
in fact, doesn't this "life" seem akin 
to that of a one-dimensional robot? 

Or perhaps a newborn baby left in 
its playpen with a couple of toys? It 
does seem to resemble both of 
these, but what I've described is, in 

fact, the role offered to players by - 

the majority of videogames in 1997. 

Gaming, when you think about it, doesn't come 
close to truly simulating the complexity and 
sophistication real life — but hope is at hand. 

The games that we have to look forward to in 
the years to come will, in terms of depth and 
realism, be light years ahead of the games that 
we enjoy today. We'll have games with real 
conversations, deep personal relationships, and 
hyper-realistic artificial personalities. 

Last month I talked about how the 
introduction of analog controllers is such a 
significant step forward. Analog controllers are 
joypads and joysticks, such as the Nintendo 64 
'pad, that offer shades of gray as opposed to 
the simple "on" or "off" of traditional, digital 
pads. The idea is that if playing a game can be 
thought of as a conversation between the game 
player and the computer, then the more 
complex this conversation, the more deep and 
involved our games will be. it's the same with a 
real conversation: the greater a person's ability 
to communicate and express him or herself, the 
more interesting his or her conversation with 
other humans will be. 


In the "conversation," between computer 
and player the computer "speaks" via images 
on its monitor and sound through its speakers, 
and the player "speaks" by sending signals to 
the computer via a joypad or keyboard. 
Conversely, the computer "listens" through its 
keyboard or joypad, and the player "listens" 
using his or her eyes and ears. Analog control is 
a great step forward because it vastly increases 
the "vocabulary" of words available to the 
player in this hypothetical conversation, and this 
enhanced vocabulary makes for a more 
complex conversation, instead of just saying 
"move left," or "don't move at all," with an 
analog controller players can say "move full 
left," "move halfway left," "move a little bit left," 
or all manner of degrees in-between. If you 
compare this to a real conversation between 
two humans concerning, say, how much one 
person enjoyed a movie, it's the difference 
between merely being able to say "Yes, I 


by Neil West 

Neil West is 

Next Generation’s 

editor-at-larse 



Within the next couple of years, 
all PC games will feature some 
kind of force feedback 


control helps games in the same way. 

This month, however, l want to talk about a 
way in which the computer's communicative 
skills are getting a boost, and how this will also 
enrich the "conversation" between computer 
and player. Sure, the computer already has a 
sizeable advantage over the player in terms of 
"vocabulary" — it can show pictures and emit 
sounds, whereas the player is restricted to 
button presses. But this imbalance is somewhat 
deliberate, designed to cut the computer some 
slack given the vast difference in "intelligence" 
between the player and the machine (you're the 
smart one, by the way). So, given that the 
computer needs all the help it can get, by 
adding an extra dimension to its repertoire of 
communication the "conversation" is 
enhanced. 


enjoyed it" or "No, I didn't enjoy it" and being 
able to say "l loved it," "l thought it was very 
good," "It was OK," "l thought it was poor," "I 
hated it," or any other amount in-between. It's 
this richness of expression available to humans 
that makes the difference between a dull 
conversation and an interesting one, and analog 



Microsoft's force feedback stick features 
the impressive industrial design of the 
original Sidewinder stick 


This extra dimension rm 

referring to is force feedback control, 
and it's my guess that within the next 

- couple of years, all PC games will 

feature some kind of force feedback 
element — and that no PC gamer will consider 
himself "hardcore" unless his rig contains an 
element of force feedback control. I'd also bet 
my copy of Super Bomberman 2 (and l don't 
wager this lightly) that the next generation of 
consoles come complete with real force 
feedback pads, not the mere buzzing of 
Nintendo's Rumble Pack or Sony's (Japanese) 
analog pad. Sure, it goes against the hardware 
company's prime objective of keeping hardware 
costs down to a minimum, but this is such an 
exciting new element of the videogame 
experience that l don't see how they can turn it 
down. Certainly force feedback was hot news at 
this year's E3. In the absence of any spanking 
new gaming systems from Sega, Sony, or 
Nintendo, the assortment of force-feedback 
joysticks on offer were easily the most exciting 
new hardware at the show. Microsoft, CH 
Products, Immersion, and more all had booths 
crammed with force-feedback 'sticks and 
'wheels — and no shortage of show attendees 
lining up to give 'em a try. This is always a good 
sign that a technology's on the up and up. 

So what exactly is force feedback, and why 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


ng special 


is it so darned important? Arcade-players and 
high-end simulator jocks are already familiar 
with the way that "active" controls can add to 
a gaming experience, in the arcade version of 
Sega's Daytona USA, for instance, the steering 
wheel shakes if the player veers onto the hard 
shoulder (this is considered "canned" force 
feedback, as the game only turns a preset 
shake generator on or off). Similar devices 
exist in many arcade games, the first title l 
remember featuring it to good effect was 
OutRun, another Sega AM2 racer. 

But canned feedback isn't what 
we're interested in here. No, the 
future belongs to the kind of 
feedback found in a high-end 
flight simulator, where often your 
entire chair will buck and jolt in 
accordance to your plane's 
movements. This kind of 
responsive, generated on-the-fly motion is 
called "smart" force feedback, as it reacts in 
real time to the specific game environment. 

When this smart force feedback is 
incorporated into a joystick (as opposed to, 
say, an entire moving cockpit in a commercial 
flight simulator) it means that the stick moves 
— or rather (and "in the field" so to speak) the 
stick applies pressure to the player's grip and 
increases or minimizes resistance to the 
player's joystick movements. So, for example, 
supposing the game you are playing is a 
racing game and you are attempting a very 
sharp right hand turn. In this instance the 
joystick's motors will attempt to force the stick 
to the left — hence requiring the player to 
push harder into the turn, and hence creating 
a sensation of the G-forces involved with such 
a turn. And because this is smart force 
feedback, the tighter the turn and the greater 
the speed at which you attempt to take it, the 
greater this pressure will be. Another 
application of smart force feedback would be 
in, say, a Doom clone in which the joystick 
"twitches" to indicate that you've taken a hit. 
Canned force feedback might simply "vibrate" 
or "twitch" the stick (as in the Rumble Pack 
that accompanies Star Fox), but smart force 
feedback triggers a motion that varies both in 
direction (in accordance to which direction 
the bullet came from) and in magnitude 
(depending on whether it was a mere bullet or 
a 50-pound cannon ball that had your number 
written on it). 

The two main companies developing 
force feedback technology for the home are 
Microsoft, who haven't quite shipped their unit 
yet, and immersion Corp, based in Sunnyvale, 
CA. immersion Corp's president Louis 
Rosenburg explains that a force feedback 


joystick, "is basically an input device, like a 
traditional joystick, but also an output device — 
the computer can command forces to the 
joystick handle and create a variety of different 
sensations." And how does it work? "There are 
actuators on each of the joystick's axis" 
Rosenburg explains, "so the computer can 
independently command a force to the X or Y 
axis. It's much more sophisticated than a 
traditional joystick - it has its own processors. 
Essentially, it's a robot that looks like a joystick 


and sits on your desk." 

The latest generation of smart force 
feedback joysticks on show at E3 all offer 
limited "smart" force feedback, I say limited 
because practical limitations have prevented 
manufacturers from giving the sticks any real 
muscle (it would be both costly and potentially 
dangerous) and the result is that feeling the 
stick "bump" at its maximum extent isn't super 
impressive. In a game, however, the experience 
is definitely enhanced, because you aren't 
concentrating solely on how much your hand is 
moving. Done right, it's an unequaled 
experience. Added as an afterthought (as it has 
been in most feedback-enabled games on the 
market), and it's a nice gimmick. With more 
titles being developed from the ground up to 
take advantage of feedback, there will be less 
"gimmickyness" in future titles. 

So, back to our "conversation" between 
game player and computer. What force 
feedback does is open up a whole new 



This force feedback joystick from CH 
Products, based on the Immersion 
technology, is already on the market 


repertoire of communication for the computer. 
Essentially, it's comparable to the difference 
between a human conversation over the phone 
and a conversation in person. When a human is 
able to make eye contact, express body 
language, and gesticulate with his or her hands, 
it subtly — but never the less significantly — 
increases his or her power to communicate. 

This is why so many business people and 
salesmen still strive for one-on-one personal 
meetings, as opposed to exclusively relying on 
phone, fax, and email. It also explains 
silent movies and how tourists in 
foreign countries are able to 
communicate (kind of) even though 
they don't speak a word of the native 
language. 

So, the computer is given a new 
element of communication and this 
can lead to two big steps forward in 
game complexity: One, the game player benefits 
from a more immersive and (assuming a leap of 
imagination) more realistic gaming experience 
— the game world can now be "touched," in 
addition to simply seen or heard, and racing 
games and flight sims benefit from realistic G- 
Forces in turns and maneuvers; Two, the 
computer no longer has to show everything to 
the player — it could, instead, put players in a 
pitch black cavern and have him navigate his 
way through simply by touch, or let him know 
that he's taken a bullet in the back, or 
communicate that his player is tired and that 
movement is progressively getting more and 
more difficult. The point is that all of a sudden, 
because the game designer is no longer limited 
to what can be shown on screen, there is huge 
potential for new game elements that were 
previously off limits because there was no 
effective way of communicating their existence 
to the gameplayer. 

There's no reason why a skilled game 
designer shouldn't design a thoroughly 
compelling game in which there were little or no 
graphics at all. Sure, it wouldn't look terrifically 
attractive from the screenshots on the box, but 
we all know better than to trust game 
packaging, don't we? Lll>° i 


want to respond? 

we'll be including a "The Way Games Ought 
To Be" Q&A in future issues, so if you have 
any comments, criticisms, or questions, 
email Neil west at theway@next- 
generation.com or write The way Games 
Ought To Be, Next Generation, imagine 
Publishing, 150 North Hill Drive, Brisbane, CA 
94005. Email is of course our preferred 
method of communication 


Essentially, force feedback is 
comparable to the difference 
between speaking over the 
phone versus speaking in person 


128 















elcome to the blood 


scream 


battle, to become Warlord of 


encounter hideous creatures 


combinations and you 


forever. Assuming 
you don’t die first. 


South Peak 

INTERACTIVE 


Call 1 800 771 3772 for Game Rating 
information. Drachen Zor, SouthPeak. 
and the SouthPeak logo are trademarks 
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NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


Multi Racing Champion Nintendo 64 Shining the Holy Ark Saturn Dungeon Keeper PC Blood PC 
Wipeout XL PC Duke Nukem 3D Mac Sega Super GT Arcade Last Bronx Arcade Poy Poy PlayStation 



130 


130 

Nintendo 64 

131 

PlayStation 

132 

Saturn 

134 

PC 

144 

Macintosh 

144 

Arcade 



ext Generation’s 
Star Guides provide 
a quick way to get 



our general impression of a 
game. But unless you read the 
review, you’re only getting 
half the story. To get all the 
information you need to know 
before making a purchasing 
decision, read the whole 
review; don’t stop at the stars 


Revolutionary 

Brilliantly conceived and 
§ flawlessly executed; a new 
high watermark. 

★ ★★★ Excellent 

A high quality and inventive 
new game. Either a step 
forward for an existing genre or 
a successful attempt at creating 
a new one. 

★ ★★ Good 

A solid and competitive 
example of an established 
game style. 

★ ★ Average 

[ Perhaps competent — certainly 
t uninspired. 

★ Bad 

Crucially flawed in design 
or application. 

Denotes a review appearing 
g on the Next Generation Disc. 

EJ Denotes a review of a 
Jj Japanese product. 


Games that make you wanna play all day 


Nintendo 64 


A Race Won 



Nintendo 64 finally gets a racing game 
i keeping, and it's a doozy 


The split screen uses small gameplay windows, 
but the frame rate and action are excellent 


Multi Racing Championship 

Publisher: Ocean 
Developer: Imagineer/Genki 


intendo 64 owners may have to put up with a lack of 
software in a number of genres (3D fighting games 
and RPGs, most noticeably), but at least they're getting 
plenty of racing games. Although Cruis'n USA and, 
arguably, Mario Kart, were intial disappointments, things 
are definitely improving. 

Multi Racing Championship lands in the off-road sub¬ 
genre originated by Sega Rally in 1995. Since then, a flurry 
of so-so titles has come and gone (Monster Trucks and 
Rally Cross among them), but few been all that fun. MRC is 
not only fun, but the realism and physics model are so 
good, some Sega loyalists who don't own N64s have said 
crazy things like, "I'd buy an N64 just to play that game." 

Using forked roads to split up each of the three 
courses and 10 selectable cars (two opened up by beating 
Match Race Mode), the game offers an impressive number 
of car and path choices Snowy mountain paths, off-road 
dirt courses, bridges, cobblestone streets, and concrete 
city streets are among the many racing environments, and 
at least in the beginning, you won't know which is coming 
next. The fun comes in when players learn which car or 
truck they like, configure it (steering, brakes, shocks, 
aerodynamics, wheels, gears, transmission) to their liking, 
and then learn which paths to take and when. Players can 
race against the computer (Championship Mode), two top 
racers (Match Race Mode), Time Trials, or Versus (two- 
player mode). 

As all this implies, there are probably more textures in 
this game than in any Nintendo 64 game yet, which creates 



Multi Racing Championship: if only every 
N64 racing game were this much fun 


a wonderful graphic complexity, and the backgrounds and 
cars themselves are quite detailed. To get this variety 
however, the game has to run in a low-res mode, which 
muddles the graphics a bit. 

Psygnosis’s pioneering Wipeout seems to have set a 
musical trend that will continue to be followed, and MRC's 
techno soundtracks are no exception. The sound effects, 
however, are a mixed bag. Most are on par, with the 
exception of the continuous high-pitched whine of the 
engines, which sounds remarkably like a ferocious, 
drunken sewing machine, eventually becoming one of the 
most annoying sounds in videogame history 

MRC could've benefitted by including at least one 
more course (which was also Sega Rally's weakness), and 
better sound effects. But the two-player mode and mirror 
courses (opened up by beating all opponents in Match 
Race) cap off the game extremely well, and give it just 
enough legs to keep players coming back. 

Rating: ★★★★ 






































rating 


PlayStation 


Thunder Truck Rally 

Publisher: Psygnosis 
Developer: Reflections 


Thunder Truck Rally comes from 
Reflections via Psygnosis, the same 
combination that produced Destruction 
Derby 2. This certainly set up some high 
initial expectations — the thought of 
finally getting in a monster truck game 
that was actually good — but in the 
end, it left us wondering if it would ever 
be possible to successfully translate 
monster truck racing into a videogame. 

The game has three modes of play, 
Endurance, Circuit, and Car Crushing. 
Endurance, the most ambitious of the 
three modes, allows players to race 


anywhere on four large islands, which 
are streamed off the CD in real-time. An 
arrow in the lower right-hand corner of 
the screen serves as a guide, in a 



Don't take too many jumps In 
Thunder Truck Rally — a near 
impossible task 


similar fashion to Sega Rally and other 
"off-road" racing titles. However, while 
it's usually no problem guessing the 
correct course by seeing the upcoming 
turn, sometimes the correct line to 
follow through the curve veers wildly in 
an unexpected direction. Of course, the 
computer-controlled vehicles always 
know the right way to handle every turn. 
Funny that. 

Each of the vehicles, which range 
from jacked-up trucks to jacked-up cars, 
sustains suspension damage if they it 
takes too many big jumps. Trouble is, the 
game's physics model has the gravity 
turned way down, so it not only feels 
like you're driving on the moon, but 
vehicles end up flying over ridges and 
bumps and soaring dozens of feet in the 


air, causing all sorts of damage to the 
shocks when they land. 

While the Circuit mode is more 
traditional racing, hemmed in by walls, 
the Car Crushing mode will undoubtedly 
be the game's second biggest initial 
draw. However, this too is disappointing. 
No matter how much fun it looks on TV, 
driving back and forth over a row of 
parked cars just isn't that exciting. 

With the exception of the 
aforementioned uncontrolled bouncing 
around, the control is as top-notch as 
you would expect from Reflections, in 
the end though, this wasn't what we'd 
have hoped for from the makers of 
Destruction Derby 2. Not horrible, but 
nothing special either. 

Rating: ★★★ 


P layStation __ 

Complete Blast 

The new multi-player title from Konami 
P°y makes a great party game 

Publisher: Konami ° r 1 ° 

Developer: Konami 



Poy Poy is the best multiplayer game for the PlayStation, hands down 


Robot arena has an evil R2-D2 clone shooting deadly 
energy beams every which way. These environmental 
hazards, along with having all the other players to 
contend with, make each game pretty hectic. 

Perhaps most importantly however, Poy Poy has 
the one quality all truly great party games must have: 
gameplay is simple enough to grasp within a few 
minutes, but offers enough variety and depth to keep 
everyone wanting to play just one more time. 

This is a truly great multiplayer game, and even 
offers the single player a great deal of fun. 

Rating: ★★★★ 


rOl ho would've thought it possible? For years, 
mmLi Bomberman was played in the Next 
Generation offices every day at five o'clock, come 
hell or last minute deadline Now, a new multiplayer 
game has strolled into town to take its place — at 
least for now — Konami's Poy Poy. 

Up to four players compete in a debris-strewn 
arena, via the PlayStation's multi-tap,. The object: blow 
up or knock down your opponents enough times to 
kill them. This is accomplished by throwing the various 
items in the arena (rocks, logs, bombs) at opponents, 
throwing other objects at bombs in time to catch an 
opponent within the blast, or just picking up 
opponents directly and throwing them around. 

There isn't too much strategy, per se, but with a 
long, impressive list of special powers each 


competitor can choose from before the match, and a 
few special items to grab for during a match (or avoid, 
since there are some dangerous doodads mixed in 
with the good ones), the amount of entropy generated 
is enough to please even the most die-hard of chaos 
theorists. The play mechanics are solid, with each 
cartoonish character able to leap and roll sideways. 

The circular arenas are quite small, and unlike 
Bomberman, are completely 3D. This makes aiming 
tougher, but ultimately more rewarding, in a nice 
touch, each battle area has its own theme, with 
environmental hazards to avoid. The Maoi arena, for 
example, has Easter 
island-like statues that 
march around biting 
players, while the 


131 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 





























NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


| rating 


Saturn 


Shine On 



Shining the Holy Ark's 
graphics mix 2D sprites with 
fully 3D backgrounds. 
Although not as high-tech as 
some, the results are detailed 
and impressive 


Sega's premier RPG series 
makes the leap to 32-bit and 
doesn't disappoint 


Shining the Holy Ark 

Publisher: Sega 
Developer: Sega 


he latest offering in Sega's popular Shining Force 
RPG series. Shining the Holy Ark, has finally 
emerged on a 32-bit platform. Departing from the 
strategy-intensive emphasis of Shining Force 1 and 2 on 
Genesis, SHA instead returns to the corridor-based, first- 
person combat engine of the earliest installation in the 
series. Shining in the Darkness. Boasting some sharp, 
innovative graphics and interesting gameplay elements 
that haven't been widely used in traditional, turn-based 
RPGs, SHA truly shines. 

The storyline is incredibly basic, but deep enough to 
keep up a solid, substantial pace. You're in control of a 
small group of mercenaries, bound together by a strange, 
supernatural twist of fate, and assigned the task of saving 
their land from the rebirth of a race of demons. Sure, 
we've heard it all before, but the shift of emphasis in 
gameplay is evenly balanced between actual combat and 
character development. So, while players will spend the 
bulk of their time hacking and slashing through massive, 
multi-level dungeons, building levels in order to defeat 
some tough, challenging bosses, the story scenes in 
between give these characters enough motivation to 
keep players moving forward to the next dungeon crawl. 
However, since there are no real sub-quests or secrets, 
the combat is where the true challenge of SHA lies. 

One of the more interesting features of SHA is the 
use of sprites instead of polygons to construct the 
characters and towns. This gives SHA a high level of detail 
and a visual uniqueness that not only looks great during 
gameplay, but sets the title apart from the bulk of other 
recent games in the genre. Another novel element is the 
inclusion of a "pixie pre-battle system,” which allows the 
player to collect and use different classes of pixies to 
enhance combat abilities. The acquisition of pixies adds 


depth to SHA, which is fortunate because the actual 
scope of the game is fairly small. The world of SHA 
consists of only four real towns in which to interact with 
citizens and purchase items. And with only one real sub¬ 
quest to deter you from the main storyline, the game can 
seem somewhat restrictive. These factors feel incredibly 
limiting in a game whose genre emphasizes the 
importance of character interaction to help progress 
gameplay. But then again, the mazes and dungeons are 
where the real focus of game is centered, and with all of 
the other impressive elements of SHA strengthening its 
appeal, Saturn owners and RPG fans will find this a solid 
game to treasure. 

Rating: ★★★★ 



Although the number of towns to explore is 
minimal, there is a lot to do in each 


D-Xhird 

Publisher: Takara 
Developer: Takara • 


Takara's been going downhill ever since 
Toshinden came out. If D-Xhird is the 
best it could do for a Saturn-specific 
game, then Takara should hire some 
better designers. 

if Namco's Soul Edge is a Lexus, 
then D-Xhird is a Hyundai. Not a lot of 
frills, but it gets the job done. Barely, it's 
a weapon-based 3D fighter, with a 
decent, Gouraud-shading 3D engine, 
and a workable frame rate. Actually, the 
game looks really good — as long as it 
isn't moving. Once the "action" begins, 
players will notice that Takara has 
learned nothing from the horrid 
Toshinden URA. Animation is dirt poor 
and the characters move like an old 
stop-motion film. 

Combat is every bit as subpar as 
the graphics. Compared to the depth of 
Virtua Fighter 2 or Fighting Vipers' 
moves, D-Xhird' s combat system is 
piddling. Each character has a maximum 
of 30 or 40 moves, and the slow 
response time makes for some 
frustrating gameplay in the heat of 



D-Xhird is the best- looking 
Takara game yet — until 
seen in action 


battle. The range of tactics is limiting 
and the combos unbalanced. 

Why Takara chose to rehash 
Toshinden is a question best left 
unanswered. Players should stick to the 
infinitely better Fighter's Megamix. 
Rating: ★★ 


Macross: Do You 

Remember Love? 

Publisher: Bandai 
Developer: Banpresto • 


You would think the company that 
invented the all-but-irresistible 
Tamagotchi could make a decent 
licensed game, but you'd be wrong. The 
industry doesn't call Bandai "the 
Acclaim of the East" for nothing. All too 
predictably, Bandai celebrates the 15th 
anniversary of the Macross anime 
(that's the 1st third of Robotech for 
Western folk), with an average game 
that could've been much more. 

Based on the apocryphal 1984 
motion picture, Macross: Do You 


132 
































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NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


| rating 


Saturn 



The missile attacks have been 
done right, but the rest of 
Macross is pretty bland 


Remember Love, the game wraps a 2D 
side scroller around the story to mixed 
effect. As the hero, players get to fly the 
typical Macross fighter, a transformable 
jet that has different targeting options 
and flight properties in each mode. 
Shades of Aeroboto, perhaps, but 
different fields of depth and guided 
missiles are uniquely suited to the 
Macrosstheme, and put to good use. 

Take away the new gimmicks, 
though, and all that's left is a clean but 
standard shooter. Banpresto has 
obviously designed the game with the 
Saturn in mind, but the low sprite 
quality leaves much to be desired. 

Gameplay also feels forced, more 
often than not. By sticking so closely to 
the movie's storyline, the developers 
make the player endure several non¬ 
levels before getting into the real action, 
it's also possible to predict the next 
level and what sort of action to expect if 
the player's watched the movie more 
than once, which is pure laziness on the 
designer's part. 

Out of the two Macross/Robotech 
games currently released, Macross: 

DYRL is more enjoyable, but the 
emperor wears no clothes. Unless 
players look at it through nostalgia- 
colored glasses, this game is worth a 
matinee, but not full price. 

Rating: ★★ 

Quo Vadis 2 

Publisher: Glams 
Developer: Glams • 


in the real-time game arena, it has 
traditionally been the West which leads 
and the Japanese that follow. Glams 
breaks that tradition with Quo Vadis 2, a 
game with real advances in the real¬ 
time combat genre. 

For this squad-level game. Glams 
has taken the best features of past 
games and done them one better. 
Players can set complex navigation 
paths with multiple waypoints, 
something which no other game, 
including warcraft II, has managed to 
do. Individual abilities and morale affect 



Sparse graphics belie the 
depth of Quo Vadis 2, which 
does things no US title does 


each squad member's combat strength, 
while customizable mechs will fire 
weapons according to range, much as in 
Blizzard's forthcoming StarCraft. 

Each of these features is handled 
effortlessly by the game's engine, 
controlled through a simple, four- 
command interface.With missions tied 
closely to a well-choreographed 
storyline, Quo Vadis becomes an open 
RPG strategy game, similar to Dragon 
Force, which neatly breaks free of the 
ritualistic confines of traditional 
Japanese RPGs. 

Unfortunately, it would have been 
better if the production level were as 
good as the strategy. Aside from the 
elaborate cut scenes and video chatter, 
the graphics are almost amatuerishly 
executed static screens and non- 
animated sprites. For hard-core strategy 
gamers this won't be a problem, but the 
casual gamer is likely to drop it in favor 
of something with more eye candy. 

Glams may not have created the 
next big game, but Western designers 
should watch their backs when it turns 
its attention to Quo vadis 3. 

Rating: ★★★★ 

Sega Ages 

Publisher: Working Designs 
Developer: AM2 


The first thing players will notice when 
playing Sega Ages is that AM2 designers 
were amazing, even back in the late 
'80s. This trilogy of Space Harrier, 
Afterburner 2, and Outrun demonstrates 



Afterburner is still more 
fun than a barrel of 
heatseekers 


that gameplay is timeless, even if 
graphics are not. 

Afterburner and Space Harrier are 
still the quintessential forward-scrolling 
shooters, clearly influencing later 
games, most obviously the Panzer 
Dragoon series and Sky Target. Although 
not the deepest or even most satisfying 
of shooters, AM2 understood that 
shooters were designed to make the 
player look good. The timing and 
graphic design of each level are still 
imaginative by today's standards. 

Outrun, on the other hand, has 
aged badly, but is still a comfortable 
play, much like a worn teddy bear. The 
graphics are primitive, even ugly by 
today's standards, but the smooth 
control and branching paths were signs 
of good things to come from AM2. 

Overall, Sega Ages holds up better 
than the Namco Museum series, and at 
a mere $40, these three games should 
be worth giving the ol' CD a spin. 
Rating: ★★★ 

Soukyu Gurentai 

Publisher: EA Japan 
Developer: EA Japan • 


Like the 2D fighter, the 2D shooter has 
long since reached the flat part of the 
advancement curve. In time, game 
evolution may push the genre out of 
existence, but until then, at this late 
date, technology doesn't steer the 
genre, design does. Looked at this way. 


Blood 

Publisher: GT Interactive 
Developer: Monolith 


After the relative lack of quality of the 
last year's wave of Doom clones, the 
quality of Duke Nukem offspring is 
actually kind of refreshing. Instead of 
Rise of the Triad and Dark Forces, the 
Duke Nukem Build engine has brought 
us Redneck Rampage, Shadow Warrior, 
and, perhaps best of all, Blood. 

Blood takes everything about 
Duke and makes it more detailed, more 
funny, and more (ahem) bloody. The 
level design is much more creative, and 
while the majority of levels are still of 
the "find the key, find the other key, use 
both of the keys, exit the level" variety, 
there is enough creativity strewn about 
them to make gameplay more fun than 
formulaic. The humor in the game is 
much more over-the-top than in Duke, 
with many of the player's one-liners 
taken directly from sci-fi and horror 



Crisp control and fine graphics 
make Soukyu Gurentai a cut 
above the average shooter 


Soukyu Gurentai (Blue Sky, Crimson 
Warriors) is at the top of its class 

There are four pillars of shooter 
design: level layout, graphic detail, 
firepower, and control. Soukyu Gurentai 
excels in all of them. From the first 
level's polygonal city to the orbital 
assault, the stunning scenery and pacing 
build a sense of drama without 
shoehorning it into a plot. 

The active targeting system and 
incremental power-up scheme give 
players a lot of choices SG has some of 
the tightest response ever seen in a 
shooter, thanks to its analog control. 

Unfortunately, it's still a shooter, 
which means linear gameplay and 
pattern memorization. Good, mindless 
fun, but not much else. For Saturn 
owners who lament Raystorm' s absence, 
Soukyu Gurentai is a great, possibly even 
better, alternative. 

Rating: ★★★ 


films (i .e.Army of Darkness), spicing up 
the sometimes-long levels. 

The weapons are the most 
inventive of any 3D shooter out there: 
in addition to the ESRB standard issue 
shotgun, there is a flare gun (flares 
explode after settling in the chests of 
enemies), a skull-headed staff called 
the "Life Leech," which steals an 
enemy's health and gives it to the 
player, and weirdest of all, a voodoo 



Blood harnesses the Duke 
Nukem engine for a game that's 
a hell of a lot of fun 


PC 


134 


































ONE™ and ASC Games™ are trademarks of American Softworks Corporation. ONE™ is co-developed by Visual Concepts. ©1997 American Softworks Corporation. 
©1995 PEG Limited Partnership. PlayStation™ and the PlayStation logo are trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. 

The ratings icon is a trademark of the Interactive Digital Software Association. All rights reserved. 


ONE MAN. ONE SOLUTION. ONE STATE OF MIND. 




NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


rating 


PC 


It Shreds 


Carmageddon 

Publisher: Interplay 
Developer: Stainless Software 


"Death Race 2000 with polygons" sounds mighty good to us, 
and it makes a great game too 


□ ny game that rewards the player for creative 
methods of vehicular manslaughter is bound 
to turn a few heads, in the case of Carmageddon, 
those heads should stay turned, because a hell of a 
good game lurks beneath the ultra-violent exterior. 

The game (distributed through interplay) 
should be called Quentin Tarantino Presents 
Destruction Derby. There are three ways to win each 
of the 30 plus races. The first, and least fun, is to 
finish the race in first place. The second, and most 
fun, is to destroy the other five contestants in the 
race. The third, which was too daunting to attempt, 
was to run down all of the pedestrians on the 
course. Since there are frequently more than 500 
bystanders on a given track, this is not the sort of 
objective one can achieve quickly. 

Rarely has a game so blatantly condoned 
wanton slaughter. Running down each unlucky 
target results in gaining bonus credits, which are 
then used to upgrade the vehicle's armor, offensive 
capabilities, and engine. The game begins with the 
player ranked number 99 in an unknown racing 
circuit, with each victory (by any means available) 
resulting in an increase of three or four ranks. 

The game runs smoothly on a Pentium 133 
with all detail levels set to normal, with very little 
draw-in noticeable in the backgrounds. Even with all 
six cars and numerous pedestrians on the screen at 
once, the game still runs at full speed — at 320x200 
under Win95,640x480 under DOS. By the time you 
read this, however, there should be a 3Dfx patch 
available on Interplay's Web site. 

Obviously, this game is not for the squeamish 



if It was any more real — or gory — you'd 
need therapy after playing 


— the detail on exploding pedestrians is, well, kind 
of disturbing at times. But if you're willing to sweep 
your morals under the rug for a while, and 
shamelessly commit auto-homicide on a grand scale, 
then carmageddon is an absolute blast. 

Rating: ★★★★ 


136 


doll. There are 13 weapons in all, 
making a highly entertaining romp 
through the included four episodes, 
setting zombies on fire and blowing up 
one-eyed monks. The game is lengthy 
without being too tedious, and 
challenging without being too difficult. 
All in all, a worthy use of the 3D 
Realms' Build engine. 

Rating: ★★★★ 

Comanche 3 

Publisher: NovaLogic 
Developer: NovaLogic 


As military helicopter flight-sims go, 
Comanche 3 heralds a new era with its 
use of voxel 2 technology graphics. The 
technology, which renders terrain with 
tiny "volume pixels" rather than 
polygons, creates a richly textured 


environment without any of the high- 
resolution problems experienced 
previously in the series. 

The downside of these realistic 
battlefields is that the memory 
requirement of moving all those voxels 
around is quite high, so the mission 
maps end up small by today's 
standards. These small combat areas 
can leave the player feeling as if every 
mission is just a matter of following the 
way-points, with groups of enemies 
littered along the route for the player to 
shoot. Still a nice selection of missions 
on differing terrains, ranging from 
desert, to forested hills, to snow 
covered landscapes, helps add variety, 
as do some interesting options, like the 
ability to call in additional air support or 
artillery fire. The addition of a computer- 
controlled wingman also adds an new 
wrinkle to the series. 


in terms of actual flight control 
and game interaction, whether the 
player is a hard-core flight-sim player 
or a more casual action-oriented fan 
makes all the difference to how much 
they enjoy the game. Thanks to VSTAB 
(vertical stabilizer), Comanche 3 makes 





voxel 2 tech graphics give 
Comanche 3 a distinct visual 
advantage over its competitors 


it easy for the novice pilot to step in 
and navigate close to the terrain quite 
comfortably. Whether this feature is 
realistic is a matter for some debate: 
NovaLogic insists that it has accurately 
recreated the flight model of an actual 
Comanche helicopter, while critics 
insist helicopters aren't that easy to fly. 
Still, the game captures the feeling of 
helicopter flight nicely, and for the 
purists, the advanced flight mode 
allows the player to turn off the VSTAB. 

One can also complain about the 
game's spotty enemy and wingman 
computer Ai, but overall Comanche 3 is 
a great-looking game that emphasizes 
fun and entertainment at the cost of 
some realism. The result is a title that 
gamers will love, although hardcore 
flight-sim freaks may have some things 
to grumble about. 

Rating: ★★★ 





















in%\ wo. 


This official seal is yoto 
assurance that this produc 
meets the highest quality 
standards of SEGA/jjjj Buy 
games and accessories 
with this seal to be sure tha 


LEGEND of eldean 


, - i 

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| rating 


Z 


PC 


Imperium Galactica 

Publisher: GT Interactive 
Software 

Developer: Digital City 


Rather than settle for just another 
strategy game, the designers of 
imperium Galactica went one better and 
created a game that challenges not only 
a player's skill in combat, but leadership 
skills as well, interaction with other 
characters within the game can have a 
profound effect on the game's events. 

Players begin as a low-ranking 
Lieutenant, but as the game progresses 
they move up through the ranks. Early 
on, gameplay centers around colony 
management (where income is 
generated) and space combat. Battles 
occur whenever a colony is invaded or 
hostile ships come into contact with one 
another, and combat is carried out in a 
manner very similar in style to Warcraft, 
with the ability to issue orders to single 
units as well as groups Fighting will only 



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cease when one side retreats or is 
destroyed. Standard stuff, but enjoyable. 

it's once a player manages to 
survive long enough to get promoted, 
however, things really start to get 
interesting. As an underling there isn't 
much to worry about, but as a high- 
ranking officer, players have to fabricate 
items, research new technology, and 
open diplomatic talks with other races 
With these new abilities comes greater 
responsibility, and there's a lot more to 
worry about than just defending a few 
groups of planets 

imperium Galactica is an excellent 
choice for strategy-game fans because it 
goes beyond a simple strategy game. The 
progression of the character, the 
additional responsibilities, and the total 
immersion of the player combine to form 
a truly enjoyable title that will keep 
players entertained for a long time. 
Rating: ★★★★ 

Into the Void 

Publisher: Playmates 
Interactive Entertainment 
Developer: Adrenalin 
Entertainment 


into the void is a turn-based strategy 
game set amongst the stars The ultimate 
goal is to build an empire by colonizing 
planets and wiping out rival civilizations 
The basic premise is quite familiar, but 
Into the Void does have some interesting 
features that deserve a look. 

First, the game requires 
colonization because each planet can 
only support a certain number of people, 
so the only way to grow is by expanding 
to other worlds. However, other races are 



In Into the Void colonies are 
key, and if you don't defend 
them, you'll certainly lose them 


trying to establish colonies as well, and 
there are a number of means at your 
disposal to prevent them from getting 
ahead. A few of these are mildly unique, 
such as using diplomatic relations to play 
enemies against each other, or the more 
covert route of sending special agents on 
reconnaissance, theft, or sabotage 
missions. Sometimes the best strategy is 
to simply steal technology. 

For those who prefer the more 
direct route and develop battle cruisers, 
even here Into the Void manages an 
interesting wrinkle, in that the game 
doesn't have any predetermined ship 
configurations. Rather, players design the 
ships themselves by first choosing a 
base hull, then adding engines, weapons, 
and defensive items. This is a very nice 
feature, since it allows the fleet to be 
customized for specific missions. 

While it doesn't break a whole lot of 
new ground, into the Void is a solid 
enough game that should please most. 
Rating: ★★★ 


Realms of Arkania III: 
Shadows Over Riva 

Developer: Attic Software 
Publisher: Sir-tech Software 


The third and final chapter of the Realms 
of Arkania trilogy from Sir-tech is exactly 
what we all expected it to be — a deep, 
detailed, and statistically heavy role- 
playing game, indeed, it even uses the 
same engine that made Realms of 
Arkania ll: Star Trail so popular. 

The entire Realms of Arkania series 
is based on the German role-playing 
system Das Schwarz Auge, or The Black 
Eye. The system is complex, and there 
are enough stats to please just about any 
hard-core RPG gamer. 

The only real drawback Riva carries 
over from Star Trail is that the interface 
just isn't very well-thought out, especially 
when it comes to the turn-based 
combat. All your characters fight it out 
on a grid, and while the isometric view of 
the battlefield lets you know how things 
stand, when the characters start to get 
bunched up it's far too easy to lose track 





















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I 


| rating 


PC 


Damned Good 

Peter Molyneaux's last project for Bullfrog has been a long 
Dungeon Keeper time coming, and it was worth the wait 

Developer: Bullfrog ° 

Publisher: Electronic Arts 




□ eter Molyneux originated the "god sim" with 
Populous several years ago. Since that time he 
has been involved in a number of projects in which 
players get to manipulate every facet of some world 
while happy (or unhappy) minions react to players' 
decisions. So why is it that when he releases yet 
another game in the genre, it still manages to capture 
the imagination, and even more importantly, seems 
completely fresh? The answer is in attention to detail 
and visionary concepts of gameplay. 

Starting with the extremely original premise of 
making the player the bad guy, the game gives 
players a chance to create a dungeon fraught with 
traps, monsters, and other perils to destroy any 
would-be heroes who happen along. At your disposal 
are a number of tools and controls that allow you to 
create new rooms, mine gold, create monster lairs, 
training facilities, evil temples, torture chambers, and 
loads more. The associations between the monsters 
you attract and the quality of your dungeon are 
astounding. Ores will only take up residence if you 
have a suitable training room, while wizards will shun 
you unless you have a large enough library for them 
to study in. A special nod is reserved here for the 
Dark Mistresses, kinky fighters who actually enjoy 
being disciplined and hang around the torture 
chambers cackling gleefully while unoccupied. 

in addition to the omnipotent overhead view, 
there is also the ability to possess any creature and 
control it from a first-person perspective. You may 
choose to be an imp for a while, mining away and 
toiling at the maintenance of your dungeon. You may 
decide to become one of your vampires, attacking 
the unwary heroes as they enter your domain. Either 


Gameplay can be thought of as an RPG as seen from the other side: 
breeding mosters and laying traps for unwary heroes 


Peter Molyneaux's last title for Bullfrog is 
among his best titles ever 


way, the option is somewhat unique among strategy 
titles, and it adds a neat twist. 

While the game will run in low resolution on as 
little as a Pentium 75, 
for the high-res modes 
at least a Pentium 166 
should be used. 
Graphically the game is 
extremely pretty, 
employing excellent 
light-sourcing and the 
ability to zoom in on the 
action for a close look 
at the detailed battles 
The audio samples 
used for each of the 
creatures and spells 
show the traditional 
sense of humor and 
style that have become 
so typical of Bullfrog 
titles Music is also 
suitably dark and edgy, 
a mix of traditional 
medieval themes with a 
hard guitar sound. 


The gameplay is among the most addictive to hit 
the market in the last several months Players can 
immediately grasp the simple interface and take the 
time to learn the complex relationships between 
their designs and their success (or failure). 

The game's only downside is the occasionally 
weak Al employed by the computer. While your units 
generally obey your commands and act well enough 
on their own, CPU opponents rarely display the same 
level of intelligence. However, the game does support 
multiplayer matches over a LAN (internet is not 
supported, although a TCP/IP patch is rumored to be 
in the works), which is a big plus. 

All things considered though, the Al flaws aren't 
enough to overshadow what is ultimately a brilliantly 
executed game. We can only look forward to 
whatever new titles Molyneux is working on in his 
new company. Lion Head. 

Rating: ★★★★★ 


















% 



mamma 




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Copyright 1996 Impact Interactive Publishing Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. Dogday is a trademark of Impact Interactive Publishing Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. 






Descend into the all new psychotic world of Pandemonium 2 and twist 
reality inside out. Explore a whacked-out psychedelic landscape with 
Nikki's insane double jump-then dominate with Fargus' maniacal attacks 
by hurling his viper-tongued side-kick Sid for skull crushing good times. 
Navigate the undulating 3D hyper-kinetic backgrounds 'till it turns your 
brain to puddin'. Hey...it's a twisted new world of furious gameplay that'll 
devour you before you truly understand it. So have a good trip. 


Pilot a giant mech through 
warped 3D tunnels.'x, 


""Fargus is a raving maniac 
prone to light fires now and 
ask questions later. 


Nikki-equipped with powers 

















PC 



of where they are among all the bodies. 
You can let the computer figure out the 
combat results for you in a few 
seconds, but part of the fun is figuring 
out strategies to destroy enemy 
groups, so the lack of improvement 
with regard to combat is disappointing. 

In fact, while overall Riva does 
improve on a few aspects of Star Trail, 
it doesn't do much to upgrade either 
gameplay or graphics. Most of the 
graphics remain pretty much the same 
in resolution and design, except for the 
prettier 3D travel window. Even the 
character portraits were lifted from the 
older game. 

Luckily, the story line makes the 
whole thing worth playing, and there's 
enough variety in the NPCs you 
encounter and items you find to make 
up for a few visual shortcomings. Role- 
playing gamers will definitely be able to 
sink their teeth into this one. 

Rating: ★★★★ 

Sentient 

Developer: Psygnosis 
Publisher: Psygnosis 


Although ambitious in its attempt to 
create a large, interactive world filled 
with intelligent non-player characters 
and completely open-ended subplots 
and storyline twists. Sentient falls flat 
on its face. The game is also available 
for PlayStation, where it stood out 
among the relative lack of graphic 
adventures for the platform. The PC 
version, however, makes its 
shortcomings all the more apparent. 

The interface is clumsy to the 
extreme — to perform simple 
conversations, you must wade through 
at least three layers of phrases. Sure, it 
makes for incredible amounts of variety 
when it comes to carrying on a 
conversation, but if they're going to 



If you think this Sentient 
screenshot doesn't look very 
good, you should see the game 


make the dialog system so complex, 
why not add a text parser so you can 
type exactly what you want to say? 

The graphics look awful unless 
you've got a 3D Blaster or Matrox 
Mystique. Most of the puzzles seem to 
center on getting an object from one 
person and giving it to another. Of 
course, you can't discount the maze 
puzzles, either. 

All in all, the execution makes the 
whole thing a complete waste of time. 
It's big, it's ugly, and it's as frustrating 
as hell to work with, in other words, it's 
about as entertaining as getting Chris 
Farley to dance a ballet. Unless you 
have enough patience to wear down 
granite, don't bother with this one. 
Rating: ★★ 



Except for some puzzles like 
this annoying button-pushing 
affair. The Space Bar is a treat 


The Space Bar 

Developer: Boffo Games 
Publisher: Rocket Science 
Games 


Steve Meretzky, creator of Planetfall, 
ZorkZero, and Hitchhiker's Guide to the 
Galaxy, has struck again. The Space Bar 
has everything you'd expect from a 
Steve Meretzky game — strange 
characters, twisted humor, and a deep 
story line. You're a human cop 
searching for a murderer in an 
intergalactic bar, but you have powers 
that allow you to go back into some 
aliens’ memories. These mind links form 
mini-quests which take place within 
each alien's mind, enabling you to gain 
insights about the alien, with the goal of 
uncovering the murderer. 

It's a fascinating concept, and is 
rather brilliantly executed. However, the 
engine that runs the game has its flaws. 
Although the 360-degree panoramic 
engine is pretty (rather reminiscent of 
Zork Nemesis), it keeps most of the 
game world from being truly interactive. 
That's fairly normal in many adventure 
games, but there are so many objects 
that look like they should be interactive 
and aren't, that it becomes frustrating. 

Some puzzles also really need 
work. Surprisingly, there was even a 
dreaded push-button puzzle that 
required endless hours of clicking 
before it was solved. 

However, The Space Bar has 
enough inventiveness, and the bad 
puzzles are few enough, that it's an 
enjoyable game — especially with the 
tongue-in-cheek humor scattered 
throughout. If you're a fan of Steve 
Meretzky, you might be slightly 
disappointed, but not by much. 

Rating: ★★★★ 

WipeOut XL 

Developer: Reflections 
Publisher: Psygnosis # 


When WipeOut XL came out on 
PlayStation, few people had quibbles 
about the game, given its leap in 
graphics and audio, and more forgiving 
gameplay than the original title in the 
series. Psygnosis has almost one-upped 
itself with the latest PC version, adding 
hardware accelerator support while 
maintaining excellent control. 

The Direct3D version, in 
conjunction with a 3Dfx accelerator or 
even a Rendition board, provides 
beautifully clean textures and minimal 
pop-up at 640 x 480. PowerVR takes 
this one step further with a fog layer in 
the distance to completely mask pop¬ 
up, nicer light-sourcing, and support of 
resolutions as high as 1024x768. Seeing 



V V 





























NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


rating 



this title run at such a resolution with 
texture filtering, transparency, and mip 
mapping, at a more than reasonable 
frame rate, is nothing short of amazing. 

Players still have a choice of four 
basic ships, with additional hidden 
ships becoming available after 
completion of all courses and classes. 
Unlike the original, collisions with the 
wall do not necessarily result in a dead 
stop, but instead merely slow the 
player down slightly. Also new to XL is 
the ability to actually destroy your 
opponents with weapons. Players must 
keep track of their own shield energy 
levels and take a spin though the repair 
area as needed between laps. 

The computer Al provides more 
than a suitable level of challenge, and 
players will quite often find themselves 
having to worry about their own shield 


Duke Nukem 3D 

Publisher: MacSoft 
Developer: 3D Realmz 


Though it took a year, the Mac port of 
Duke Nukem 3D is an impressive feat, 
both for the game's own features, and 
the quality of the port. 

Duke's Build engine is still a "two- 
and-a-half-D" construct, as was 
Marathon's, but Build is the more 
sophisticated, able to place rooms over 
rooms, fake bridges and the like. 
Characters and items are sprites, and 
have a pixelated appearance, but thanks 
to good game design this detracts little 
from play. To MacSoft's credit, Mac 
interface cues such as dialog boxes are 
included. Not to mention that on a mid¬ 
range PowerMac, we got a decent 24 fps 
frame rate at 640x480 resolution, with all 
the details and sound on. In addition, the 
networking features are amazing: over 
null modem or LAN, and it's all cross¬ 
platform, to boot. 

The Mac version includes not only 
all the bonus levels known as the 
Plutonium Pack on the PC, but uses the 
Mac's own sound recording features to 
enable live trash talk between players 
over a net game. Now, who wants some? 
Rating: ★★★★ 



Duke Nukem for the Mac is 
every bit as good a time as Its 
PC ancestor; a welcome port 


levels as a result. Track design is well 
done with numerous scenic elements 
(trams moving, lens flares, etc.) 
contributing greatly to the overall 
environmental feel. 

We would be greatly remiss not to 
mention the amazing soundtrack, 
provided by Pygnosis's own Cold 
Fusion. While some of the music tracks 
are remixes of the original WipeOut 
soundtracks, many new ones will keep 
your adrenaline pumping, and once 
again hits a high-water mark in both 
music and production design. 

If you have a 3D accelerator of 
any sort, you owe it to yourself to pick 
up this game, its nearly flawless 
gameplay, pumping soundtrack, and 
visual excellence mark it as a showcase 
title and all around good time. 

Rating: ★★★★ 


Heroes of Might and 
Magic II 

Publisher: Studio 3 l) 0 
Developer: New World 
Computing 


The first Heroes of Might and Magic 
looked good, but was problematic. The 
quality of the Mac port was poor and 
annoyingly crash-prone. Heroes of Might 
and Magic II proves to be much more 
stable, despite some porting blunders. 

Gameplay is similar to the original, 
with a few enhancements. The resource- 
management, turn-based nature of the 
game is unchanged, as is the goal of 
taking over all the other castles on the 
gameboard and eliminating the other 
heroes. New additions are more hero 
and monster types, more varied castles, 
and an improved computer Al. Battle 
mechanics are changed, too: now heroes 
have a depleting number of spell points, 
and there's an amusing "ripple of death." 

It would have been nice, however, if 
HM&Mll had used standard dialogs for 
saving and opening games. Still, as role- 
playing games are few on the Mac, 
HM&Mll, with its mix of character and 
Warcraft-Wke game elements is a 
welcome addition. 

Rating: ★★★ 



Using the environment is key 
during the battles in Heroes of 
Might and Magic II 


Last Bronx 

Publisher: Sega 
Developer: Sega AM3 


The mysterious disappearance of one of 
Sega's coolest and most street savvy 
fighters has just been solved. Well, sort of. 
After showing a 75% complete version 
not less than a year ago, Sega has failed 
to make any mention of the game since 
What happened to this fabulous weapon- 
based brawler? as it turns out. Last Bronx 
seems to have been the victim of Virtua 
Fighter 3-itis, a casualty of progression 
that found itself in the unenviable position 
of being the last Model 2 fighter — ever 
— lost in the shadow of its Model 3 
cousin. Last Bronx was passed over 
before it even started to ship to arcades 

Which is a shame, because like 
many AM3 titles. Last Bronx is a grittier, 
and in some ways more inventive product 
than the sometimes overly smooth efforts 
of AM2. This is Sega's entry in the 
weapon-based fighter, revolving around 
street punks and bandits who look like 
they're straight out of Escape from New 
York or The Warriors. 

Carrying bats, nunchakus, long 
poles, tonfun (police sticks), Sais, and 
Sansetsukons, rival gang members mix 
weapon-based combat with street 
brawling and martial arts techniques in 
ways that are far more subtle and crafty 
than at first glance. The same simple 
three-button configuration (punch, kick, 
block) found on all Model 2 fighting 
games is used on Last Bronx, and is still 
the most natural, intuitive, and easy to 
learn system around, so having some 
experience with VF moves helps when 
learning the combat system. 

However, all eight characters 
(Yusaki, Nagi, Zaimoku, Lisa, Kurosma, 
Yoko, Tommy, and Joe) are different in the 
way they fight, and the unique abilities of 
each are guided by a helpful system. 


There are three different get-up moves 
(tumble and rise, rise and kick, and turn 
and rise), as well as a Quick Approach, 
and an Attack Cancel, meant to disarm 
your opponent's defensive strategy. 

Sure, anyone can button mash and 
survive the first couple of matches, but 
unlike Fighting Vipers, for example, that's 
about as far as one can go. After that, 
long pole expert Tommy will flip you 
upside down in the blink of an eye, or 
Yoko will start into a combo with her 
tonfun that knocks you into a triple flip 1/4 
of the way across the screen. 

Character movement is fluid and 
glitch-free, and the overall attention to 
detail, whether it's the spin on Joe’s 
nunchakus, or the swing of Zaimoku's 
giant hammer, is impeccable. Virtua 
Fighter 2 looks primitive in comparison, 
and although Last Bronx still doesn't 
compare to VF3, well, nothing does. 

The sound effects are excellent, 
especially the crack of a bat on an 
opponent's head, and the characters 
taunt verbally on occasion, too. The 
music is OK. It's not really noticeable, but 
it doesn't distract or get in the way either. 

Last Bronx is already in development 
for Saturn, so at least some folks will get 
to play it. Let's hope then it gets the 
attention it deserves 
Rating: ★★★★ 



Last Bronx Is grittier than VF 2. 
it's sad that AM3's games are 
always in the shadow of AM2 


Mac 






































sstiS 


•SESgaggsr 


















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


rating 


Super Model 


Sega Super GT 

Publisher: Sega 
Developer: Sega AM2 


AM2 and Model 3 demonstrate once again why they're the 
best in the business 



Without question, the most visually stunning racing game of all time, Sega Super GT is 
absolutely the state of the art in arcade racing 


□ et's get right down to it. Sega’s newest Model 3 
creation is the most gorgeous driving game ever 
to grace an arcade. Simply put, Sega Super GT is a 
visual masterpiece, boasting never-before-seen 
graphics and providing realistic driving speeds gamers 
simply have never ever experienced (unless, of course, 
they're Mario Andretti). After the brilliance of Virtua 
Fighter 3, Sega Super GT is a superb Model 3 follow¬ 
up, harboring only a few minor hitches, most of which 
are contained in the game's control. 

Each level is filled to the brim with eye-popping 
polygonal environments and moving backgrounds, the 
most stunning of which (indeed, even boastful) is the 
aquarium, found on the first and easiest course. Other 
courses feature full mountain ranges containing 
multiple waterfalls, Aztec ruins, and airplane hangers, 
to name a few. The texture maps never cease to 
amaze, with seemingly no end to their variety. Water 
and glass transparency, lens flare, reflections from 
water and the cars themselves, and fiery sparks 
bursting from a collision are all impressive. 

Since this is a driving game, one would think less 
time would be spent looking at the scenery, but frankly, 
it's hard not to. And maybe that's why many gamers 
will get up from this game and feel completely blown 
away, yet somehow unsatisfied. Sega's racing games 


are becoming more and more realistic in look and feel, 
and in the way they must be driven. In others words, 
while there is more margin of error here than in Sega 
Touring Car, it is more difficult to master than Daytona 
USA or indy Racing. The other trick to master the 
power-slide, and while these have 
been a Sega racing staple since 
Daytona USA, at such realistically 
high speeds, power-slides are 
difficult to handle, and multi-car 
wipeouts and flips are common. 

This means a steep learning 
curve, but at least the computer 
controlled cars wipe out too 
Up to two players can race 
at one time, a far stretch from the 
days of eight-person Daytona 
racing (and probably due to the 
high cost of a Model 3 cabinet, 
rather than technical 
considerations), but the two- 
player mode is where the real 
beauty of the game lies The four 
dream cars (Porshe 911, Ferrari 
F40, Dodge Viper, and the 
McClaren FI) are idyllic to drive, 


though they differ from one another a little less than 
we had hoped for. The music and sound effects are 
superb, and the arcade cabinets are classy and well 
designed. "Must See to Believe." 

Rating: ★★★★ 



146 



















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NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


148 







r U N I V E o/ R S I T Y 
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Exceptional Game Programming 
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Stormfront Studios, Inc. is a leading developer of top-quality, award-winning 
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a difference in our business. The positions open are as follows: 

Al Programmer: Sports Game I PSX Programmer: Racing 
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If you love playing and designing games, enjoy finding creative solutions to 
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We offer a very competitive pay, benefits and stock options program. Please 
mail your resume to: Stormfront Studios, Marta Daglow, H.R. Consultant, 
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Black Ops Entertainment Is looking for programmers and a gists who are passionate about making videogames. Black Ops 
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Ipaystation/ Win95 programming experience' 
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Have something to say? Tell the most sophisticated gamers on the planet what you think, wonder, question, 
love, hate, find amusing, or don't understand. Write us at Next Generation Letters, ngonline@imagine-inc.com. 
Everything is read, if not replied to. Letters may be edited for space or clarity. Email only, please 



Complaints, criticisms, comments: Correspondence between you and us 


□ enjoyed your "Know the 
Score" article in NG 30. in 
my opinion it was very fairly and 
objectively written. But one point 
that was left out about the 
PlayStation that no other system 
(except PC) has, is the link 
capability. And now that 
PlayStation has dropped to $149,1 
can buy another one and have 
what I've always dreamed of: my 
own home arcade. Eventually, with 
two TVs (32" screen WipeOut, 
anyone?) and two surround sound 
units, l will have a game system 
that blows away any arcade, if 
Sony was smart, they would drop 
the price even lower to entice PS-X 
gamers to do just that. Considering 
the entertainment value that link 
mode offers, it's worth it. 

Greg Varlotta 
GVARLOTTA@Aol.com 

Sorry to say, but most Sony 
developers these days are giving 


up on the Link Cable. Although 
your enthusiasm is admirable, it 
turns out that many consumers, 
believe it or not, actually can't 
afford the two TVs, two surround- 
sound stereo setups, and two 
PlayStations (not to mention two 
copies of each game). Most 
retailers won't even carry Link 
Cables anymore. 

□ K, what does a body have to 
do to get a straight answer 
around here? For months I've 
written, called and e-mailed 
everyone I could think of to either 
confirm or deny the rumors of a 
modem due to be released for the 
Sony PlayStation in September at 
or about $99. No one has been 
able to tell me one bloody thing 
about it. With Sega's NetLink 
offering modem play to Saturn 
owners, why hasn't Sony come up 
with a NetLink of their own? With 
all the games that Sony offers 



(especially those with a link 
feature), we PS-x owners desen/e 
the right to be able to play online 
against one another. If it turns out 
that the rumors are not true, l for 
one believe that Sony is missing 
out on a great opportunity here. I 
hope you Sony guys are listening. 
Break down for once and give us 
what we all crave, online gaming 
for the PlayStation! 

Emmanuel Vazquez 
emmanuel_vazquez@bakerbo 
tts.com 

Although your passion is notable, 
it's also — sadly — misplaced. 
Although Sony had plans for a 
modem peripheral at one time, its 
market research showed such a 
system would be too expensive to 
launch, and would have a very 
limited audience (see the above 
letter about the Link Cable). 
Sources within Sony have stated 
unequivocally that, "Sony has no 
internet strategy at this time." 

Sorry. Way back in NG 06, 
PlayStation creator Ken Kutaragi 
alluded to a modem for PlayStation 
2, but don't hold your breath... 

o bring up an old subject I'd 
like to talk about the voice 
acting in video games, particularly 
in Resident Evil. From my 
understanding of the game, 
Capcom wanted to bring the 
feeling of a horror B-movie into a 
video game, because, let's face it, 
B-movies are the best kind. One of 
the basic characteristics of such 
movies is when there's one thing 
about it that seems really, stupidly 
out of place — most commonly 
the acting. And that's what made 
Resident Evil so cool. Much of the 
game is awesome, but the acting 
gives it that off-kilter touch that 
makes it better than great, a 
classic in fact. How often have we 
laughed at "the master of 


□ 


unlocking," or, "Here, l got a rope, 
why don't you go down by yourself 
and check it out?" And, "is that you 
Chris?" when standing right in 
front of her is a classic. 

I hope there's a default setting 
for this kind of cheesy stuff in the 
second one. Just something to 
think about. 

RONINTAO@aol.com 

if more of the voice acting — or 
just acting in general — in video 
and computer games were actually 
good, instead of being terrible as a 
rule, maybe we could chuckle at 
the gaffes. Trouble is, most games 
are awful in this area. Resident Evil 
is a particularly grating example 
because the game's quality was 
otherwise so high, it's doubtful 
Capcom intended for the dialog to 
be so bad. if you liked it though, 
well, more power to you. 

couple of days ago I went to 
buy Turok: Dinosaur Hunter 
for Nintendo 64. When l got to 
Electronics Boutique and saw that 
it cost $79.99, not including tax, I 
was shocked. That is ridiculously 
high. I decided to buy a PlayStation 
game instead for $49.99, $30 less. 
I'd like to know if the prices of their 
games will be this high all the time, 
l think Nintendo 64 is a great 
system, but the game prices are 
unreasonable. 

Brian 

DukeNukeml 4@juno.com 

This is just one of dozens of letters 
we've received on the subject, in 
point of fact, both sales and rental 
charts are dominated by N64 titles, 
something which Nintendo is only 
too happy to point out as "proof" 
that $80 is just fine with 
consumers. Granted, those 
numbers may be somewhat 
deceptive, since the figures for 
Nintendo 64 carts are 


□ 


153 


NEXT GENERATION September 1997 

















NEXT GENERATION September 1997 


| corresponding 



concentrated in a very small 
number of titles per month, 
whereas PlayStation purchases are 
spread out over a much larger 
number of releases (not to 
mention a huge library of older 
titles N64 doesn't have). Numbers 
to confirm or deny this vary 
greatly, but in the end, it's clear 
that however much consumers 
dislike the price point, they seem 
to be gritting their collective teeth 
and bearing it. Go figure. 

□ n response to the star-rating 
system, I'd say it's really 
needed with the flood of software 
out in the market today. The star 
ratings were one of the very 
reasons l started to subscribe to 
Next Generation. What ever 
happened to the Gamer's Guide in 
the back of the issue by the way? 

It was very helpful. 

Kennycapp@aol.com 

Thanks for the input. At least for 
the foreseeable future, the star 
ratings will stay. Sorry about the 
disappearance of the Gamer's 
Guide from the print magazine, but 
since the Next Generation CD- 
ROM now includes a 
comprehensive database of every 
review ever printed in Next 
Generation (including PC, Mac, 
and arcade reviews which were 
never included in the Gamer's 
Guide), it was felt that those 
couple of pages could be put to 
better use with the return of "The 
way Games Ought to Be." 

hy is it that Next 
Generation magazine only 
reviews some games that were 
reviewed on the Web site? Games 
get reviewed online the day they 
come out, but then you guys leave 
out the review in the magazine. 

And if it is put in the magazine 
you only review it for one system, 
which is confusing to say the least, 
because a gamer doesn't know if 
the rating stands for the other 
system(s). A suggestion is if the 
rating stands for all systems name 
all the systems, or put "multi." 

Ruben Cito 

As a print magazine, Next 


Generation has to deal with a 
small limitation (read: irritation) 
known as "lead time," or the time it 
takes after a story is written for it 
to pass through art, production, 
printing, and distribution. Given 
NG's commitment to quality in 
both design and printing, this takes 
roughly two months to ten weeks. 
So, while NG Online can review a 
game the day it ships, Next 
Generation magazine can seem 
to lag behind. Of course, we are 
sent copies of games in advance 
of the general public, but our iron¬ 
clad policy is never to review a 
game until a publisher considers it 
final and reviewable, so a lot of the 
time "in advance" only means a 
matter of a week or two before it 
hits store shelves (an especially 
acute problem, by the way, with 
cart-based, N64 titles). 

As for games released across 
multiple platforms, if a game is 
available for a system other than 
the one on which it was reviewed, 
this is generally noted in the body 
of the review. Unless other 
versions are markedly different in 
content or quality, or the release 
dates for different versions are 
significantly far apart, we feel the 
space can be better utilized by 
covering new titles, rather than by 
repeating ourselves. 


Your suggestion of a more 
formal system for noting other 
versions has merit, however. NG 
staffers are currently looking at 
several ways to increase the utility 
of the Finals section, and should 
implement them a few issues from 
now. Further suggestions are, as 
always, appreciated. 

□ was just reading NG 31, and 
on page 27 (the news story 
"Intel and Microsoft Enter The 
Arcade Fray") l found some of the 
article was missing. The very last 
sentence ends, "provide the 
horsepower to..." To what? Where's 
the rest of the article? I want to 
know the rest of it! Please tell me. 

Brian Lau 
Jaguar@whoever.com 

Busted, in the rush to ensure a 
timely issue at E3, the news 
section suffered a bit. The final 
paragraph should have read, "With 
the advent of Intel and Microsoft's 
vision, the arcade industry is at a 
crossroads, it must decide whether 
to pursue the older, expensive, 
proprietary hardware or some new, 
open standard that may not 
necessarily have the horsepower 
to differentiate itself from home 
platforms." Five words missing. 
Sorry. To make it up to you we'll 


□ just reread the Trip Hawkins 
interview in NG22. He got 
nearly every prediction wrong. For 
example, "...if l thought that 
PlayStation was going to be a really 
large market... we would publish 
for it ourselves. I don't believe 
that..." He also wrongly states that 
Sony lost lots of money with their 
system. His hyped ability to peer 
into the future even saw a 
DVD/game box by 1998 for $299! 
Combined with Studio 3D0's track 
record of mediocre titles, why is 
this guy considered such a genius? 

Karl Cramer Jr. 
banodyne@worldnet.att.net 

Two words: Electronic Arts. Also, 
despite 3D0's dismal hardware 
history, he did manage to make 
$120 million on M2 hardware. 

Still, he needs new success 
soon, or he’ll fall into the “Silicon 
Valley has-been" category; and 
don't think for a second Trip isn't 
more aware of that than anyone. 

Your points are valid, but if PS- 
X hadn’t risen to dominance so 
quickly, Matsushita's M2 might 
have been that $299 DVD game 
system — that's certainly what he 
was talking about. Finally, 3D0 is 
working on PlayStation software as 
of this writing, so we guess he now 
believes! 


154 












You gotta have art. 

* Ultimately, the way a game looks when you're playing it is an essential 
part of the gaining experience. Next month, Next Generation reveals the 
top tools and players in the business of making pretty pictures 


Next Month 


Next Generation #34 
on sale September 23,1997. 

Smart readers have already subscribed. To find out how you too can save money 
and guarantee your copy, turn to the insert between pages 116 and 117 


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